Christianity, State, and Voluntarism: Protestant Processes of Privatization and Deprivatization

Anders Sevelsted

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One of the lasting meta-narratives in civil society research is that of the secularization of religion, often portrayed implicitly or explicitly as a teleological process towards an end goal where religion disappears altogether or is pushed back into the private sphere. Using the case of Danish revivalist movements, this chapter argues that “secularization” is a dangerous process concept, and it instead analyzes the contingent historical process of privatization and deprivatization of Lutheranism in Denmark. First, the Danish-Norwegian Lutheran Reformation of 1536 is reconceptualized as a process of reconfiguring public religion whereby a new statist “community cult” emerged. Second, the pietistic revivals starting in the late eighteenth century are shown to have managed to carve out a local space for private worship—a space from which urban revivalists eventually deprivatized to deal with “the social question” of the late nineteenth century. The new public role in turn led revivalists to engage in struggles over what spheres of life should be considered private in the first place, specifically in the case of “public-private” partnership regarding treatment of alcoholics in the early twentieth century. The analysis ends with an argument in favour of a “democratization of the differentiation question.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivil Society : Between Concepts and Empirical Grounds
EditorsLiv Egholm, Lars Bo Kaspersen
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780367340957
ISBN (Electronic)9780429323881
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesRoutledge Advances in Sociology

Bibliographical note

Published November 30, 2020.

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