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Book Review: Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing it, and What Comes Next?

ARC Team 02
2022-10-18 08:02 339

Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing it, and What Comes Next? by Ronald F. Inglehart. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. 203 pages.


Fumihiko Matsumoto



    In his last book before his death entitled Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing it, and What Comes Next?, Ronald Inglehart meticulously explores the wide range of data to analyze what is going on in the religious sphere in this modern age. The book employs data from not only Western countries, but over 100 countries in order to examine the conditions leading to the decline in religiosity and the implications this phenomenon holds for the future. The data convincingly suggests that there is a significant difference between the period from 1981 to 2007 and the period from 2007 to 2019. At glance, both periods seem to belong to the same era called modern period. However, this same era has a significant difference for the decline in religion. Then, what is causing the decline in religiosity between those periods? Inglehart uses two terminologies to explain about the change. The majority shift from “Pro-Fertility Norms” to “Individual-Choice Norms”. It appears that Individual-Choice Norms were already in existence long before the period of 1981-2007. Developed nations have gone through the woman’s movement, gay-rights movement and having populations with the problem of obesity rather than the problem of hunger. Moreover, it is more understandable to compare with those who had little material possessions and food after the World War II and with those who enjoyed the financial prosperity from 1960s and 70s and onward. However, if looking at the actual political adaptations in same sex marriage for example, it can be seen that Individual-Choice Norms and the new generations who wholeheartedly believe in those norms became more apparent after 2007 and onward.  

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