Secular Religion: A Discourse-historical Approach to Religion in Contemporary Western Europe

Kocku von Stuckrad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In many countries in Western Europe today, religion is an important factor in public debates. Contrary to most expectations, religion has not vanished or even become subordinate under the influence of secularism. While this phenomenon has put the general theory of secularization under pressure, an alternative model for explaining the place of religion in Western Europe is only slowly taking shape. The present article is a contribution to this discussion. Making use of discourse analysis as it has been developed in the sociology of knowledge and in historiography, the article problematizes and transcends the secular–religious divide. It is argued that the entanglement of religious and secular discourses has produced new meanings and new realities since the rise of secularism in the eighteenth century. Four perspectives on the reconfiguration of the religious fields of discourse are introduced that have shaped contemporary religious landscapes in Western Europe. These perspectives are discussed with special attention to the situation in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of contemporary religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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