The people of no religion: the demographics of secularisation in the English-speaking world since c.1900

Brown, C. (2011) The people of no religion: the demographics of secularisation in the English-speaking world since c.1900. Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, 51, pp. 37-61.

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Abstract

This article argues for study of the decline of religion in western countries, not merely in terms of loss and negative consequences for (predominantly) Christianity, but in positive terms for the individuals who have taken the decision to forsake organised religion. It puts forward the need to consider ways of examining secularisation which grant respect to categories of secularity selected by respondents. After contextualising an examination of the category of ›no religion‹ (also known as ›none‹) from state censuses and surveys, the article compares the growth in the numbers of people adopting these labels in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United States and the four countries of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). This shows ultra-low levels prior to 1960, followed by a common pattern of rapid change in the late 1960s; however the rates of change, and the destiny of the change, differ thereafter. The article concludes by examining demographic information as to who ›no-religionists‹ were in terms of age, gender and race, and explores some economic and religious-heritage determinants of growth. It posits a key linkage between feminism and ›no-religionism‹, but acknowledges the need for a vast increase in research.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brown, Professor Callum
Authors: Brown, C.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F001 United States local history
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1001 Canada (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Archiv für Sozialgeschichte
ISSN:0066-6505
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2011 Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
First Published:First published in Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 51:37-61
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the permission of the publisher.

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