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One of the basic questions concerning religious pluralism in societies is whether it has a reinforcing or an undermining effect on religiosity of individuals. The two contradicting hypotheses are on the one hand the ‘market theory’ on the other hand the ‘secularization theory’. According to the ‘market theory’ a vast supply of religions in society also increases the demand for it and thus reinforces the religious vitality. The ‘secularization theory’ states that individual religiosity is weakened by a plurality of religions in society. The study presented in this video tests both theories empirically for the United States of America and for Western Germany using data covering more than fifty years. As DETLEF POLLACK explains, the findings confirm the secularization theory for both societies. This might indicate a positive relation between modernization and secularization that so far is doubted by many researchers.


Detlef Pollack is Professor of the Sociology of Religions at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, in the German state of North-Rhine-Westphalia. In 2003 Pollack received the Max Weber Chair for German and European Studies at New York University.

Since 1995 Pollack has been a member of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR). His specific research interest is in religious multiplicity. Using Germany as a case study, Pollack interrogates the nature of individual religiosity today, in the context of a religiously plural society.


University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

Founded in 1780, the WWU Münster is a university with tradition. 250 courses of study, 43,000 students, a staff of 5,850 including 590 professors - as well as 550 partnership agreements with universities and other academic institutions all over the world. Münster University has developed a strong research profile in natural sciences, humanities, medicine, law and business administration. It targets top-level research in high-performance areas and combines this with promoting first-class junior research staff. (Source: WWU)
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Original publication

Religious Pluralism: Undermining or Reinforcing Religiosity?

Pollack Detlef
Published in 2016

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