e-ISSN: 1309-1719
ISSN: 1309-1786
Period: 2 Issues Annually
Start: 2010
Publisher: Bursa İlahiyat Vakfı

A Critical Analysis of Existential Security Theory

A Critical Analysis of Existential Security Theory

Article Sidebar

Akbarshah Ahmadi
Independent researcher

Kemal Ataman
Uludağ University


How to Cite
Ahmadi, Akbarshah, and Kemal Ataman. 2018. “A Critical Analysis of Existential Security Theory”. Ilahiyat Studies 8 (2):157-87. https://doi.org/10.12730/13091719.2017.82.165.


Classical secularization theories have been subject to criticisms for their inability to explain religious change and vividness in modern society. The theory of existential security claims to respond to such criticisms. Indeed, unlike conventional theories, the theory of existential security asserts that the principal catalyzer for secularization is not rationalization and differentiation, but security. Accordingly, it explains secularity and religious vividness in a global aspect. Therefore, this paper questions the foregoing claims of existential security theory, since the latter cannot be different from conventional theories because of their common growth and the context in which they were developed. In addition, this study argues the difficulty of considering a single perspective to explain religiosity in a global aspect. Accordingly, the paper critically addresses the theory of existential security in light of sociological data and analyses.


Ataman, Kemal. Ulus Olmanın Kutsal Temeli: Sivil Din. Bursa: Sentez Yayıncılık, 2014.

Beck, Ulrich. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Translated by Mark Ritter. London: Sage Publications, 1992.

———. “Living in the World Risk Society.” Economy and Society 35, no. 3 (2006): 329-345. https://doi.org/10.1080/03085140600844902.

Beckford, James A. Social Theory and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511520754.

Berger, Peter L. “Reflections on the Sociology of Religion Today.” Sociology of Religion 62, no. 4, special issue: Religion and Globalization at the Turn of the Millennium (2001): 443-454. https://doi.org/10.2307/3712435.

———. “Foreword.” In Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, edited by Nancy T. Ammerman, v-viii. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305418.001.0001.

———. The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward A Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

Berger, Peter L., Grace Davie, and Effie Fokas. Religious America, Secular Europe?: A Theme and Variations. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008.

Casanova, José. Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994.

———. “Beyond European and American Exceptionalisms: Towards a Global Perspective.” In Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures, edited by Grace Davie, Paul Heelas, and Linda Woodhead, 17-29. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, 2003.

———. “The Secular, Secularizations, Secularisms.” In Rethinking Secularism, edited by Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, 54-74. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

———. “Are We Still Secular? Exploration on the Secular and the Post-Secular.” In Post-secular Society, edited by Peter Nynäs, Mika Lassander, and Terhi Utriainen, 27-46. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012.

———. “Exploring the Postsecular: Three Meanings of ‘the Secular’ and Their Possible Transcendence.” In Habermas and Religion, edited by Craig Calhoun, Eduardo Mendieta, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, 27-48. Cambridge: Polity Presss, 2013.

Davie, Grace. Religion in Britain Since 1945: Believing without Belonging. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1995.

———. “Vicarious Religion: A Methodological Challenge.” In Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, edited by Nancy T. Ammerman, 21-35. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305418.001.0001.

Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Translated by Joseph Ward Swain. 5th ed. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1964.

Foley, Michael W., and Dean R. Hoge. Religion and New Immigrants: How Faith Communities Form Our Newest Citizens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188707.001.0001.

Giddens, Anthony. The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990.

———. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991.

Hamilton, Malcolm. The Sociology of Religion: Theoritical and Comparative Perspectives. London: Routledge, 2001.

Healy, Amy Erbe, and Michael Breen. “Religiosity in Times of Insecurity: An Analysis of Irish, Spanish, and Portuguese European Social Survey Data, 2002-12.” Irish Journal of Sociology 22, no. 2 (2014): 4-29. https://doi.org/10.7227/IJS.22.2.2.

Heelas, Paul. “Challenging Secularization Theory: The Growth of ‘New Age’ Spiritualities of Life.” The Hedgehog Review 8, no. 1-2 (2006): 46-58.

Hill, Michael. A Sociology of Religion. London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1973.

Himmelfarb, Gertrude. The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.

Inglehart, Ronald, and Pippa Norris. “Why Didn’t Religion Disappear? Re-examining the Secularization Thesis.” In Cultures and Globalization: Conflicts and Tensions, edited by Helmut Anheier and Yudhishthir Raj Isar, 253-257. London: Sage Publications Ltd., 2007.

Kirman, Mehmet Ali, and Bülent Baloğlu. “New Forms of Religiosity within Secularization Process in Turkey.” World Journal of Islamic History and Civilization 2, no. 3 (2012): 158-165.

Lanman, Jonathan A. “An Order of Mutual Benefit: A Secular Age and the Cognitive Science of Religion.” In Working with a Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor’s Master Narrative, edited by Florian Zemmin, Colin Jager, and Guido Vanheeswijck, 71-92. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110375510-005.

Lenski, Gerhard E. “Social Correlates of Religious Interest.” American Sociological Review 18, no. 5 (1953): 533-544. https://doi.org/10.2307/2087437.

Martin, David. “The Secularization Issue.” The British Journal of Sociology 42, no. 3 (1991): 465-474. https://doi.org/10.2307/591190.

———. Religion and Power: No Logos without Mythos. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2014.

Martin, Philip, and Elizabeth Midgley. “Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America.” Population Bulletin 61, no. 4 (2006): 3-44.

Marx, Karl. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’. Translated by Annete Jolin and Joseph O’Malley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Inglehart. “God, Guns, and Gays: Supply and Demand of Religion in the US and Western Europe.” Public Policy Review 12, no. 4 (2006): 223-233. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791017.

———. “Sellers or Buyers in Religious Markets? The Supply and Demand of Religion.” The Hedgehog Review 8, no. 1-2 (2006): 69-92.

———. “Uneven Secularization in the United States and Western Europe.” In Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism, edited by Thomas Banchoff, 31-57. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307221.001.0001.

———. “Are High Levels of Existential Security Conducive to Secularization? A Response to Our Critics.” Paper presented at Mid-West Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, April 22, 2010. https://sites.hks.harvard.edu/fs/pnorris/Acrobat/MPSA%202010%20Existential%20Security%20and%20Secularization.pdf. Accessed September 28, 2017.

———. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Pace, Enzo. “The Helmet and the Turban: Secularization in Islam.” In Secularization and Social Integration: Papers in Honor of Karel Dobbelaere, edited by Rudi Laemans, Bryan Wilson, and Jaak Billiet, 165-175. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1998.

Pargament, Kenneth I. The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice. New York: The Guilford Press, 1997.

Pollack, Detlef. “Religious Change in Europe: Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Findings.” Social Compass 55, no. 2 (2008): 168-186. https://doi.org/10.1177/0037768607089737.

Possamai-Inesedy, Alphia. “Beck’s Risk Society and Giddens’ Search for Ontological Security: A Comparative Analysis between the Anthroposophical Society and the Assemblies of God.” Australian Religion Studies Review 15, no. 1 (2002): 27-43.

Roberts, Keith A., and David Yamane. Religion in Sociological Perspective. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1990.

Silver, Daniel. “Religion without Instrumentalization.” European Journal of Sociology 47, no. 3 (2006): 421-434. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003975606000166.

———. “What does it mean for religion to be important.” Paper presented at Our Common Future, Hannover-Essen, November 2-6, 2010. http://www.ourcommonfuture.de/fileadmin/user_upload/dateien/Reden/Silver_paper.pdf. Accessed September 28, 2017.

Stark, Rodney. The Triumph of Faith: Why World is More Religious than Ever. Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2015.

Stark, Rodney, and Charles Y. Glock. American Piety: The Nature of Religious Commitment. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

OECD. “Suicide Rates.” https://data.oecd.org/healthstat/suicide-rates.htm. Accessed July 6, 2016.

Torpey, John. “A (Post-) Secular Age? Religion and the Two Exceptionalisms.” Social Research 77, no. 1 (2010): 269-296.

Vogelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.

von Heyking, John. “Secularization: Not Dead, but Never What It Seemed.” International Studies Review 7, no. 2 (2005): 279-284. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2486.2005.00485.x.

Article Details

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>