Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson

Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson

Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson

Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson


How secular is contemporary society? Are pockets of sectarianism embedded in societies of developed countries? This timely book examines the interweaving of politics and religion, and of tradition and innovation in a variety of cultural settings. Eminent scholars from four continents examine here current turmoil in religious beliefs, practices, and organization--not only in the Western world, but in South America, Africa, South Asia, New Zealand, and Japan. They scrutinize evidence of religious change, decline, and revival; investigate challenges posed by new religious movements; and locate religious change and conflict in the context of broader shifts in consciousness and culture. Contributors include Richard Fenn, Phillip E. Hammond, David Martin, Philip Rieff, Roland Robertson, and Mark Schibley. With its focus on the interplay of secularization, rationalism, and sectarianism, this work offers a fitting tribute to Bryan Wilson, who has made so many contributions to the sociological understanding of these phenomena.


These specially commissioned essays have been written by a diverse group of scholars who all share at least one thing--respect, admiration, and affection for Bryan Wilson, the doyen of sociological studies of religion in Britain. All the contributors are, in the broadest sense of the term, his colleagues; some of them have been privileged to be his students. In honouring Bryan Wilson in this Festschrift, they represent thousands of other scholars around the world who owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for the enrichment that he has brought to our understanding of modern societies.

Bryan Wilson spent his undergraduate years at University College, Leicester, obtaining a B.Sc. (Econ.) with First Class Honours from the University of London in 1952. He continued his studies under the supervision of Donald MacRae at the London School of Economics, where, in 1955, he completed his doctoral thesis which was revised for publication under the title Sects and Society in 1961. Wilson then took up a lecturing post at the University of Leeds until 1962, when the University of Oxford awarded him an M.A. and appointed him as a Reader in Sociology. A year later he became a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, the home to which he has continued to return after each of his many sojourns in Europe, America, Africa, Asia, or Australia as a researcher or Visiting Professor. In 1984, the University of Oxford conferred upon him a D.Litt. In 1992, as the high point of its celebration of 100 years of social sciences, the Catholic University of Leuven, Louvain (Belgium) conferred upon him the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sociology of religion.

A scholar of indubitable integrity, Wilson displays a scrupulous attention to detail within a broad theoretical approach that not only educates and illuminates, but also stimulates his readers. Rarely does one find someone engaged in original research who is so influential theoretically. His lectures and writings, full of nuances and subtleties, are models of clarity and elegance.

The scope of Wilson's scholarship and erudition defies brief . . .

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