Globalization, syncretism, and religiosity in the United States

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Thomas W. Segady, Ph.D

Abstract

Although the phenomenon of “globalization” has become a central focus of intellectual interest, the globalization of religion and religiosity has largely been ignored. This is in spite of the fact that religion has both changed and been changed by the forces of globalization. Focusing on a comparative study of religion and religious change in Britain and Western Europe, it is found that the United States has taken a direction apart from other postindustrial societies. The central postulate is derived that major social institutions are not “unilinear” vis-à-vis the dynamics of globalization. This is clearly seen by considering the effects of differential rationalization. Additionally, the structural forces in the United States that have facilitated “micro” changes in religious affiliation have progressively led to qualitative changes with respect to religious “dwelling” and “seeking.”

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