Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age


Such a view of enchantment as bound to erode with modernity underpins not only the by now much critiqued paradigm of secularization but is also lingering on, albeit less explicitly, in more recent studies. Charles Taylor’s seminal work A Secular Age (2007), which has played a key role in reframing the contemporary study of religion, is a case in point. Taylor has noted that religion in modern societies is subject to transformation rather than simply “vanishing,” or “returning” after a period of repression. In other words—and here Taylor’s perspective resonates with Talal Asad’s position outlined in Formations of the Secular (2003)—secularization and disenchantment transform modern religion instead of abolishing it. Not only does Taylor use secularization and disenchantment interchangeably, thereby linking the privatization of religion to the decrease of spirits, he also suggests a development from belief in spirits, which he associates with premodern, enchanted societies, to a quest for spirituality in the secular, disenchanted age.

more from Birgit Meyer at The Immanent Frame here.