Secularisation, church and popular religion

Steve Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The contrast between institutional and popular (or folk) religion is used by some social historians to rebut the sociological secularisation thesis. This article uses a re-examination of religion in the north Yorkshire fishing village of Staithes to consider how some elements of popular religion change with the decline of institutional religion. It concludes by suggesting that, far from enduring despite the decline of the Christian Churches, popular religion is doubly vulnerable to secularisation: it is directly eroded by secularising forces and it is indirectly undermined by the decline of the Churches. Without an institutional core, a popular religious culture cannot be sustained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-561
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ecclesiastical History
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


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