The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000

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Understanding Secularisation, 1800–2000

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Christianity in Twentieth Century Britain

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The Death of Christian Britain

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Understanding Secularisation, 1800–2000

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Review: Becoming Atheist, by Callum G. Brown | THE Books

View basket. Continue shopping. Title: the death of christian britain. United Kingdom. Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History. The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding secularisation, In focusing his work on the death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown has sought to direct our attention away from the traditional concerns of studies of secularization and towards something that he considers to be more important, "the end of Christianity as a means by which men and women as individuals construct their identities and sense of 'self'" 2.

This shift of focus allows Brown to challenge the traditional narrative of secularization on a number of fronts. For Brown, secularization in Britain has not been a long and gradual process, but recent and rapid-something that happened "really quite suddenly in " 1. Its causes are to be found not in the traditional processes associated with the theory of modernization-urbanization, industrialization, and the rise of societies fractured along the lines of social class.


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Instead, they are to be found in changes in the construction of gender identities in general and female ones in particular. For Brown, viewing religion as discourse, its primary function lay in its power to shape the construction of such identities, and the dominant form of discursive Christianity between and was the "evangelical narrative. Women were seen as more naturally religious than men, notions of piety and domesticity became integral to the social construction of the feminine itself, and the attachment of women to the ideology of domesticity sustained the power of discursive Christianity.

The relationship of men to a predominantly feminized religion became increasingly problematic and male religious practice was substantially dependent on female religion. In the late s and 60s, this form of discursive Christianity suddenly lost its power. The crumbling of traditional controls on publication and sexual practice, the development of a youth culture in which "the vinyl record displaced the printed word as the key method by which young people formed their own discursive world" , and the arrival of a new generation of teenage magazines for girls both signalled and effected the abrupt dissolution of the discourse of the homely woman.

This cultural change is traced by Brown in a sample of oral testimony and autobiography in which he detects both a collapse of the evangelical discourse as a method of constructing identity and an increasing inarticulacy in the discussion of religion.

Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000

Piety had lost its discursive home, and female identity was increasingly in collision with the traditional construction of pious and domestic femininity; the result was a sudden and catastrophic secularization of British society. In its determination to move away from traditional obsessions with the statistics of churchgoing and the rise of class, Brown's approach is both innovative and challenging, and likely to prove controversial.

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