Sociological explanations of the relationship between globalisation and religion

Religion and Globalization (Introduction) | Veronique Altglas -

sociological explanations of the relationship between globalisation and religion

The relationship between religion and politics can be examined under three rather different historical pre-condition for understanding the modern world. not possess an adequate sociology of religion in global or imperial conditions. Introduction: Define globalisation What is globalisation? ANSWER QUESTION, YOU WILL EXPAND LATER ON: Globalisation has had positive and negative im. This article examines the relationship between religious cultures and the forces of and was Co-president of its Research Committee 16, 'Sociological Theory';.

sociological explanations of the relationship between globalisation and religion

It seems to us that four of these debates are particularly important. Firstly, globalisation has often been associated with a process of de-territorialisation, hence addressing the meaning of space in the global world. Globalisation has indeed been described as a process of time- space compression: The signification of space is also addressed by depictions of globalisation that insist on the fluidity of modern social phenomena.

It is precisely through de- territorialisation that, for Appadurai, these flows find their paths, albeit in a fragmented and disjointed way. It could be claimed that de- territorialisation necessarily involves re-territorialisation and that rather than being in tension, globalisation incorporates locality itself Robertson Secondly, a fundamental debate regarding globalisation results from the understanding of its cause McGrew One approach is to understand globalisation as the result of the economic, military and technological hegemony of the West, and accordingly equate globalisation with westernisation Therborn The idea that a capitalist monoculture will dominate and spread standardised cultural goods has been developed for example by Ritzerwho termed the process McDonaldisation, insisting on the expansion of the rationalisation process formerly analysed by Weber.

By contrast, other scholars make a distinction between globalisation and westernisation and insist on the contribution of other regions of the world. In this perspective, westernisation is only one particularism amongst others, no more meaningful than Japanisation for Koreans, Indianisation for Sri Lankans, Russianisation for the Baltic republics, etc. This means that globalisation can be polycentric, and that some peripheries may acts as centres to other peripheries.

The importance of this debate is paramount: Yet the thesis of the homogenisation of culture might overlook the importance of processes of the appropriation of circulating cultural resources, which involves selection, interpretation and adaptation Tomlinson This is precisely because globalised cultural resources are adapted to local settings that their globalisation can occur.

This is what Robertsontries to capture with the notion of glocalisation; it implies that universalising and particularising tendencies coexist and that the global is only possible when being adaptable to local contexts. Thirdly, crucial discussions relate to the issue of the impact of globalisation.

Another approach consists in shedding light on the ways in which globalisation elicits responses and resistances. At the grassroots level, alternative social forums, and transnational networks of social movements and civil initiatives, constitute what has been called globalisation-from- below, challenging the authority of national and international forms of governance — globalisation from above Falk Globalisation is alternatively considered as an unprecedented social phenomenon, hence embedded in a theory of modernity Giddensor resituated in a longer continuum as a process that precedes modernity Robertson Transnational social movements may be seen as constituting new and independent forms of counter-power, the expansion of capitalism as limiting the scope for progressive politics, and world governance as undermining the autonomy of national laws and policies.

In other words, as key networks of power increasingly transcend national boundaries, it is discussed whether globalisation contributes to a denationalisation of territorial space or at least to a re-shaping of the state McGrew These four fundamental discussions regarding globalisation — de-territorialisation and the significance of space, homogenisation and diversification of culture, responses to globalisation, and denationalisation — are reflected in those social studies focusing on religion in global context.

In particular, studies into the globalisation of religion aim to understand the relationships between transnational religions and space, they discuss the westernisation and diversification of religion in global context, they explore the ways in which globalisation elicit religious responses, and they analyse the ways in which global religions challenge national states.

These essential thematic approaches to globalisation and religion structure the four volumes of this Reader: Religion and Space in Global Context vol. Each of these themes will be discussed in this Introduction, but before this, two points need to be made at the outset and will be expanded in the next two sections.

To start with, in such an Introduction, it seems unavoidable to stress the very particular relations between religion and the phenomenon of globalisation, often thought as being consubstantial to each other.

It is also particularly important to point out how globalisation, as a conceptual tool, has impacted on the sociological understanding of modern religious phenomena. However, there might be good reasons to view religion as an essential component of the making of the contemporary global situation.

They attempt to grasp ultimate truth, to provide a totalizing, all-encompassing explanation of the universe and its origins, the beginning and end of time, its cycle, the essence of nature and humankind, or the meaning of life. Furthermore, if we understand globalisation as interdependence and consciousness of this interdependence, we could claim that religions have always been global in the sense that they never have been isolated from each other.

Religions have had permeable boundaries, and through circulations of peoples and ideas they have moved and interacted with one another, generating borrowings, adaptations and syntheses of beliefs and practices Juergensmeyer What is the truth?

It is precisely because religious encounters whether acculturation or opposition raise the problems of religious universalism and particular identities Robertson and White Finally, it may be claimed that globalisation elicits religious responses because, as Robertson and Chirico argue, globalisation is itself intrinsically religious.

This claim entails that in order to understand the worldwide resurgence of religious phenomena such as fundamentalism, the emergence of new religious movements, and tensions in the relations between states and religionswe need to understand the making of modern global circumstances.

Firstly, globalisation involves the relativisation of societies and selves, in such a way that it raises issues about the legitimacy of the world order of societies and the meaning of mankind. Secondly, these processes of relativisation involve reactions and resistances within societies, toward a politico-religious definition of particularistic identity and values, raising fundamentalism and civil religion problems.

That is to say, in a globalised world that entails increasing levels of contact and proximity between a diversity of religions, hence the growing awareness of this diversity, religion is likely to play a significant role in the construction of identities, in social conflicts and in political issues. While this could be seen as a politisation of religion, Robertson and Chirico also note that the conflation of politics and religion in global circumstances also derives from the fact that conversely the state has increasingly taken charge of matters about the meaning of life and humanity which were traditionally associated with the religious sphere.

The sociology of religion has been dominated by the question of whether religion is compatible with modernity. As sociologists Berger ; Luckmann ; Martin ; Wilson described the gradual separation of churches and states in contemporary western Europe and observed 2 Robertson and Chirico: Beyer advances that religion is disadvantaged compared to social systems it competes with, such as politics, economy, science or mass media.

Religions are fragmented as a plurality of organisations and movements in a non-regulated market; in a world dominated by technologically oriented systems, and they have no common standards through which they could be assessed like science does, they have no equivalent channel of globalisation such interchangeable currencies or political diplomacy.

If globalisation entails the worldwide standardisation and specialisation of social relations, that is to say a process of rationalisation universalised, then globalisation restricts the social and cultural significance of religion on the world scale.

sociological explanations of the relationship between globalisation and religion

But thinking with the concept of globalisation may also address the relevance of the secularisation paradigm itself. Like secularisation, the concept of globalisation aims at explaining and understanding social change in relation to modernity. Yet, in focusing on social trends that cross boundaries and interactions between societies, globalisation compels social scientists to think globally too.

By contrast, secularisation theories have focused on modern Europe and its decline of religion, making of secularisation an isolable and distinctive historical development unavoidably linked to Christendom Robertson This means that at the very least, testing properly the theory of secularisation on a worldwide scale entails the broadening of our horizons, and the questioning of what counts as religion or as religious decline.

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Moreover, a comparative perspective on the significance of religion in various regions of the world could well point out the extraordinary resilience and vitality of religions in various social contexts. Undeniably, religion can still play a fundamental role in giving substance to identity and collective membership such as in Northern Ireland Mitchell [ This list is far from complete.

These examples show that religion has become a significant means for various regions to assert themselves in the global world, as Robertson and Chirico suggested. It might lead us to conclude that modernity and religious decline may not always be coterminous in every part of the world.

Thus the assumption that modernisation generates religious decline cannot be considered as a universal law. The issue of secularisation and its focus on the specific internal dynamic of the western Christendom model should be subsumed by an emergent global perspective Robertson Accordingly, the use of the concept of globalisation entails a shift away from the old narrative towards other issues.

For example, how do migrants reconstruct their religious tradition in host societies? How do religions become transnational and interact with new cultural environments? What impact do they have on nation-states and their response to religious diversity? How do transnational religions conceptualise territories and communities?

More importantly, religions in modernity cannot be exclusively explained by national or local factors.

sociological explanations of the relationship between globalisation and religion

The Catholic Church cannot be resumed to its local manifestations. This, we would add, is true for other religions that are presented in this reader, from Buddhism in the West to Yoruba religions and their transatlantic diffusion.

Now that these preliminary remarks have shed light on the importance of globalisation for the social understanding of religion, the following sections of this Introduction present, in turn, the theme from each volume in this Reader. Religion and Space in Global Context We have described globalisation as a social phenomenon addressing the significance of space through processes of de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation.

It is therefore understandable that the relationship between religions and space in global context has become an important sociological issue. Indeed, this relationship is particularly fascinating and complex: Thus contributions in the first volume outline the ways in which religions construct geographic representations of the globalised world.

Applied to religion, the centre-periphery perspective addresses where religions are constructed in global society. This particular societal construction of religious sub-systems became the model of religion for the rest of the world through the impact of western imperialism, just as the nation-state was to encapsulate social life and shape identities around the globe.

It is striking that this centre-periphery relationship is sometimes reflected in representations of space elaborated by religions themselves. Pentecostal and Charismatic cosmology indeed devalues the world as a place 6 full of temptation and evil influences and by contrast magnifies heaven as an inaccessible and desirable place to be.

This dual religious representation of space finds meaning in that it mirrors the way Papua New Guineans interpret their social lives in the global world: It expresses their sense of remoteness from unreachable places of power, wealth and well-being.

Indeed, globalisation implies complex and mutual influences between places, through the intensification of circulations of people, ideas, commodities, money, and so forth. This challenge has probably led to the renewal of interest in the concept of diaspora. For Saint Blancat, who analyses the transformation of Islam in Europe, this concept sheds light on transnational mobility, extraterritorial bonds of identity and constant adaptation to local contexts of residence.

How precisely do religious diasporas combine local adaptation and transnationality? One approach to this question is to single out one religious tradition and compare its variations in new local contexts, which is what Vertovec does. Ebaugh and Yang, for example, conducted an ethnographic study of several immigrant religious institutions in the Houston metropolitan area.

They outline common patterns of adaptation to contemporary American society, such as adopting a congregational form of organisation and ritual and adapting to a pluralistic environment. This concept, argues Levitt, allows us to capture the ways in which beliefs and practices are transformed, in both host country and sending-country communities by ways of communication and travel, and therefore to understand globalised everyday religious life at the local level.

Finally, relationships between religion and space have been dramatically transformed by the development of channels of communication linking different part of the world. Maxwell provides a detailed account of the global spread of Pentecostalism, emphasising the importance of print media. Emerging at the beginning of the 20th century, the Pentecostal movement crossed the globe within a decade. New media technology of the 20th century increased the expansion of religious discourse, as shown by American Televangelism, a form of religious broadcasting operated by conservative evangelicals who particularly aim to reach regions of the world where their missionary activities are difficult, forbidden or challenged by competition.

In the last decade, the Internet has been employed by all sorts of religious actors, raising a new area of the study around the themes of online religions and virtual communities. However, it seems to us that a satisfactory analysis linking globalisation, religion, and practices of Internet users remains to be done. The ways in which global media facilitate the expansion and modification of religious teachings represent only one aspect of the relationships between religions and communication.

It is equally fundamental to take into account the reception of messages disseminated by printing, broadcasting or the Internet and to analyse how globally spread religious ideas and representations impact upon audiences and their religious lives. Again, as many of the studies discussed above show, the study of globalisation entails taking into account how different localities are linked together through extensive networks of circulating practices and ideas, which certainly do not preclude power relations.

Westernisation of Religion and its Counter-trends Another key debate concerns whether globalisation is a process of westernisation, hence of homogenisation, or whether it maintains and generates cultural diversity. How this issue relates to religion is be the object of the second volume of this reader. It states that globalisation involves the expansion of religion, as elaborated in modern European Christian societies, that is to say as a differentiated subsystem from science, law, economics, and so onand as a plurality of religious entities distinguished from one another.

Indeed, the more the world becomes globalised, the more societies and individuals may feel the need to differentiate themselves and draw clear-cut boundaries and identities Robertson: Thus, the global religious system might be seen as a 4 More largely, Robertson Consequently, westernisation of religion coexists alongside the dramatisation of differences. This coexistence of paradoxical tendencies is important to recall, as the thesis of westernisation has often been over-simplified by its critiques.

It is not surprising that the debate over westernisation is present in the analysis of global forms of Christianity. Beyer advances that western imperialism has led to the globalisation of Christianity so that it remains the largest religion in the world. This drastic change is the result of a low birth rate and a continuous process of secularisation in the West, combined with the impressive growth of Christianity in non-western regions of the world.

In other words, one could say that Christianity has become a non-western religion. Transnational evangelicalism is indeed increasingly initiated within the Third World itself by autonomous local agents. African churches have developed and expanded beyond the African continent: Adogame shows that while these churches have maintained their particular ethnic religious identities in European societies, they successfully have taken advantage of new forms of communication technologies, as well as of the religious, economic, and socio-political opportunities in their host countries, and they have engaged in new roles such as assisting immigrants and asylum seekers.

Assess sociological explanations of the relationship between globalisation and religion. (33 marks)

Thus, numerous social studies link the vitality of contemporary Christianity, in particular its Pentecostal and Charismatic expressions, with their ability to become embedded within cultural, political and economic contexts of non-western societies. Redding sees their post Confucian values are encouraging, similar to the protestant work ethic. He says that they embrace the work ethic and lifestyle of Calvinists aspect of life which in result its members to prosper.

He says that natural resources are also needed. For example while Protestant has grown in northern Brazil, the religion lacks resources and remains backwards. By contrast, the south, which is developing rapidly, has both a work ethic derived from Pentecostalism and the necessary resources.

Also Christianity has globalised itself. Lehmann says that it has done this by accompanied globalisation, imposed by indigenous populations and in the past years spread because of popular following. The symbols and imagery from local cultures attributes to success. They attack cults and perform exorcisms, accept and validate beliefs. This has contributed to the relationship between globalisation and religion as it shows that religion has helped counties to develop and using the idea of protestant ethic in Latin America has a valid explanation to why they have grown.

A further link between globalisation and religion is explained through fundamentalism. Fundamentalism has a response to globalisation and to related trends. Gidden says that fundamentalists are traditionalist.

He states that this is a relative new term and sees its growth as a production of and reaction to globalisation. He says that this has undermines traditional norms and values.

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They say that religion offers certainty to a now uncertain world due to the choice that people now have. Beckford criticises fundamentalists for ignoring other important developments including how globalisation is also affecting non fundamentalist religions such as Catholicism.

Giddens lumps together all types of fundamentalism together, ignoring important differences between them. Jeff Haynes argues that we should not focus narrowly on the idea that Islamic fundamentalism is a reaction against globalisation.

For example in the Middle East, conflicts caused by failure of local elites to deliver on their promises to improve the standard of living are often the fuel that drives fundamentalism. This evidence argues that globalisation has undermined traditional religious beliefs.

There are two examples of this from the late 20th century these are Poland and Iran. It has created war and terror such as the war in Iraq. So the effect of globalisation on religion has created a clash of civilisations. Although there are some critics such as Jackson who believes it is a Western ideology that stereotypes eastern nations. Also Armstrong argues hostility towards the West does not stem from fundamentalists Islam but to western foreign policy in the Middle East.

This shows that due to globalisation it has increased religiosity but has created friction between countries.