That Phantom Menace: A Response to the Supply Side Paradigm of the Rise and Fall of Religious Organisations

Gerald Rose

Abstract


A new paradigm within the field of the Sociology of Religion is being aggressively promulgated by a number of leading Sociologists in the USA. Based on theories drawn from contemporary laissez faire economics, rational choice learning theory and drawing upon a wide array of empirical data, the new paradigm challenges the prevailing secularization theory's prediction of a steady decline in religion in the modern world. However, a number of concerns, have been raised about the new paradigm, including the claim that instead of saving religion from the threat of secularization, it subverts it by assuming an implicit secular motivation in religious behaviour. In the following, some of the key elements of the paradigm are examined in the light of a number of these critical concerns. It is concluded that while it offers helpful explanations at the macro level of the "religious economy", at the meso (organizational) and micro (individual) levels there is good cause for concern.


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