While scholars have often pointed to the fact that France might be an exceptionally irreligious country, this hypothesis has not yet been tested with longitudinal data; and nor have researchers tried to account for this alleged irreligiosity. The present article tries to fill this gap in the literature by comparing France to other Catholic countries in Western Europe. To do so, we use the Church Attendance and Religious change Pooled European (CARPE) dataset, which to date is the most extensive dataset of church affiliation and church attendance in European countries, as well as International Social Survey Program (ISSP) data that allow us to measure religious beliefs and make retrospective estimations as far back as the 1910s. We find that France shows significantly lower aggregate religiosity than other Catholic countries in Western Europe, although this difference has diminished in the last few decades; and this low level of religiosity cannot be explained by France-specific period effects operating in the last 40 years. Rather, secularization in France takes the form of cohort replacement, which has led to differences in religiosity between the countries being reproduced from one generation to the other. In other words, France is so irreligious because it began on the path of secular transition earlier or from a lower level than comparable countries.

Is France exceptionally irreligious? A comparative test of the cohort replacement theory / J. Stolz, F. Biolcati, F. Molteni. - In: L'ANNÉE SOCIOLOGIQUE. - ISSN 0066-2399. - 71:2(2021 Sep), pp. 337-367. [10.3917/anso.212.0337]

Is France exceptionally irreligious? A comparative test of the cohort replacement theory

F. Biolcati
Penultimo
;
F. Molteni
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

While scholars have often pointed to the fact that France might be an exceptionally irreligious country, this hypothesis has not yet been tested with longitudinal data; and nor have researchers tried to account for this alleged irreligiosity. The present article tries to fill this gap in the literature by comparing France to other Catholic countries in Western Europe. To do so, we use the Church Attendance and Religious change Pooled European (CARPE) dataset, which to date is the most extensive dataset of church affiliation and church attendance in European countries, as well as International Social Survey Program (ISSP) data that allow us to measure religious beliefs and make retrospective estimations as far back as the 1910s. We find that France shows significantly lower aggregate religiosity than other Catholic countries in Western Europe, although this difference has diminished in the last few decades; and this low level of religiosity cannot be explained by France-specific period effects operating in the last 40 years. Rather, secularization in France takes the form of cohort replacement, which has led to differences in religiosity between the countries being reproduced from one generation to the other. In other words, France is so irreligious because it began on the path of secular transition earlier or from a lower level than comparable countries.
Si les chercheurs ont souvent souligné le fait que la France est peut-être un pays exceptionnellement irréligieux, cette hypothèse n’a pas encore été testée avec des données longitudinales ; et les chercheurs n’ont pas non plus tenté d’expliquer cette prétendue irréligiosité. Le présent article tente de combler cette lacune de la littérature en comparant la France à d’autres pays catholiques d’Europe occidentale. Pour ce faire, nous utilisons l’ensemble de données européennes qui est, à ce jour, le plus complet sur l’appartenance et la fréquentation des églises dans les pays européens (CARPE), ainsi que les données du Programme international d’enquête sociale (ISSP) qui permettent de mesurer les croyances religieuses rétrospectivement, dès les années 1910. La France affiche une religiosité globale significativement plus faible que les autres pays catholiques d’Europe occidentale, bien que cet écart ait diminué au cours des dernières décennies (et ce faible niveau de religiosité ne peut s’expliquer par des effets de période, spécifiques à la France, opérant au cours des quarante dernières années). La sécularisation en France prend plutôt la forme d’un remplacement de cohortes, ce qui a conduit à la reproduction des différences de religiosité entre les pays d’une génération à l’autre. En d’autres termes, si la France est plus irréligieuse c’est qu’elle a pris la voie de la transition séculière plus tôt que les autres pays, ou en partant d’un niveau plus bas.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/864915
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