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Understanding the New Visibility of Religion

Hjelm, T; (2014) Understanding the New Visibility of Religion. Journal of Religion in Europe , 7 (3-4) pp. 203-222. 10.1163/18748929-00704002. Green open access

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This article examines recent debates about the ‘return of religion’ to the European public sphere. It argues that there is widespread confusion between religion being more visible and religion having more impact on contemporary societies. The article asks what the 'new visibility of religion' means, how religion is contested and renegotiated in the public arena—or rather, in different publics—and what the effects of these struggles are on society, state and religion itself. It does so by providing an analytical overview five distinct approaches to the new visibility of religion: desecularization, de-privatization and post-secularity; the effects of ‘welfare utopianism’ on public religion; religion as a social problem; religion as expedient; and the mediatization or publicization of religion. The article concludes that what we are witnessing is a ‘secular return’ of religion, where religion is relevant for public discourse only by virtue of being either problematic or useful.

Type: Article
Title: Understanding the New Visibility of Religion
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1163/18748929-00704002
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/18748929-00704002
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10042691
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