When the Gods Fall: Varieties of Post-Secularization in a Small, Secularized State


Lengthy debates over the process of secularization in the West have concluded. In many ways, secularization theorists appear to have won the debate: traditional measures of religious vitality reveal a decline in religion. Yet, recent events, especially those involving politics and national identity, have encouraged scholars and members of the public to reconsider the ways in which something like religion might endure and influence public life in secularized Western nations. This paper uses the exceptional-typical case of Iceland - a modern, Western, secularized country of comparatively small population size - to observe and conceptualize a variety of processes which are here collectively named post-secularization. Its findings suggest that processes which may appear as unrelated or opposing forces - the emergence of new religious movements, the transformation of traditional religious symbols into profane branding, far right nationalist movements - may be part of a single, post-secularization process. Secularization, having fissured the sacred, leaves religion a pliable cultural tool.

Publication Title

Politics and Religion