Religion und Spiritualität in der Ich-Gesellschaft: Vier Gestalten des (Un)-Glaubensby Martin Baumann

Journal of Contemporary Religion


Cultural Studies / Philosophy / Religious studies


inflexible moral codes, but appreciating that Romantic aestheticism is inadequate without ‘the love of God’—shows how that paradox is the key to his bridging the liberal–communitarian political opposition in Canada and elsewhere. Gregory and Hunt-Hendrix argue that Taylor’s response to Illich pervades his work, but they conclude that Taylor softens Illich’s radicalism and trace this to Taylor’s ambivalence about aspects of modernity, in particular modernity’s practices towards and definitions of ‘time’ and ‘contingency’.

The final part, “Outliers”, explores the implications of Taylor’s analysis for the concept of ‘modernity’. Ian Angus, in a subtle account of Taylor’s (well attested) debts to Hegel, discusses Taylor’s search to recover meaning without rejecting the modern age. Angus sees Hegel’s model of reason reconciled with reality in modernity as the basis of Taylor’s position. The ‘modern moral order’ is Taylor’s delineation of society as constituted both by objectified processes and by moral agency. The tension is ineradicable, so politics for Taylor, notably his own involvement in community politics, becomes the search for a middle way, to improve rather than abandon modernity, in particular through promoting ‘egalitarian complementarity’ in mediating institutions. The final chapter is an eloquent excavation by the religious studies scholar, Bruce Ward, of the pervasive influence of

Dostoevsky on Taylor’s analysis of secularity. Dostoevsky is centrally engaged by the ‘condition of reflexive doubt’ induced by the awareness that others do not share our beliefs—what Taylor calls ‘fragilization’. The pervasive importance of aesthetic sources for Taylor is an observation common to several contributors.

Many of the chapters focus on the subtleties and paradoxes of Taylor’s positions, whether or not they trace them to the influence of Herder, Hegel or

Christianity itself. It is a rich collection whose themes resonate in the humanities and the social sciences of religion as much as in theology proper.


Royal Holloway College (Emeritus), University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK © 2015 Bernice Martin

Religion und Spiritualita¨t in der Ich-Gesellschaft: Vier Gestalten des (Un)-Glaubens



Zu¨rich: Edition NZN with TVZ 281 pp., SFR42.00

ISBN 978–3–290–20078–7

Scholars in the sociology of religion and religious studies have given much attention to developments and changes of religiosity in modernity and late modernity. Important theories such as secularisation, individualisation, and market theory have provided analytical lenses through which to interpret

Book Reviews 325 major processes. The new book by Jo¨rg Stolz and his co-authors claim not only to provide an encompassing new theory to interpret processes of religious decline and revival, but also to provide a satisfactory explanation of the trends and developments of religiosity from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentyfirst century. This self-conscious claim is met by the theory of religious–secular competition, a typology of four types of (un)belief, and an historically informed thesis. The empirical basis is historical and contemporary

Switzerland, with two waves of previous quantitative studies and new data from a large mixed-method research project which involved interviews with people favouring a Christian and/or alternative spiritual religiosity or no religiosity.

The sociologists of religion start with the assumption of analytical sociology that individuals act in a rational way, although they do so to a limited extent.

The theory of religious–secular competition does not negate but integrate previously established theories going back, among others, to Weber’s and also

Bourdieu’s relation of competition between religious specialists in the religious field. The key idea of Stolz’s new approach is that social competition between “religious and secular suppliers and collective agencies” (36) is continuously taking place. These suppliers and agencies vie for influence, power, and prevalence of interpretation at all levels of society and organisations and for individual demand and interest at the individual level. In the nineteenth and until the mid-twentieth century, during the “regime of competition in industrial society” (47), religious, liberal, and socialist suppliers vied for power and influence, but since the 1960s in the new competitive regime of the “I-society” (56), the individual is the one who decides him/herself and different suppliers rival for her/his interest. Stolz et al. use historical reconstruction to demonstrate that, during the industrial period, the Christian churches had command at their disposal on religious belonging and ritual, on free time which was mainly Sundays, on the education of children, on gender roles, and much more. In contrast, with the emergence of the ‘I-society’, the individual has gained independence and material resources to decide him/ herself. This thesis sees the important shift taking place with the liberalising cultural rebellion during the 1960s. This led to a change of the regime of religious–secular competition, shifting religion and religiosity from their public and encompassing societal place in industrial society to a private and individual place in the ‘I-society’. The conflicts of the cultural rebellion enabled the young generation to carve out individual freedom to decide for themselves in matters such as raising children, choosing careers and partners, and how to be religious or non-religious. New norms such as self-development, individualism, and creativity became prominent, which led to varied attitudes towards the hitherto taken for granted adherence to the dominating Christian churches. In consequence, Stolz et al. propose to differentiate four main types of (un)belief in the current ‘I-society’, encompassing the types of institutional, distant, alternative, and secular, with each in turn dividing into sub-types.