NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, ┼bo Akademi University

Extending methods for studying secularisation on the national level to the regional level

Peder ThalÚn

The paper will discuss the possibility of extending methods for studying secularization on the national level to the regional level. What are the methodological differences? Does the concept of secularizaton need be revised when the focus is changed from the "macro" level to the "micro" level? What kind of results are to be expected from such kind of "micro studies"? Many examples will be taken from the recent Swedish study "Guds nńrmaste stad" (The city most close to God) and the theoretical presuppositions of that study will be scrutinized. Another departure for my discussion is Charles Taylor's concept "conditions of belief" which he develops in his book "A Secular Age". According to Taylor this concept is central for understanding the cultural change called "secularization". I will discuss the fruitfulness of applying this concept in a regional context. Are these conditions of belief visible on a regional level and how it is possible to study them? Can this concept shed light on the differencens between more "pious" regions in a country and the "religious indifferent" areas? Does the town milieu affect the conditions of belief and in what sense?