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Dick Houtman, professor of Sociology of Culture and Religion at the Center for Sociological Research (CeSO), KU Leuven, Belgium:

Higher Seminar: Dick Houtman

Fri
9
Oct
Time Friday 9 October, 2020 at 13:15 - 14:30
Place Online

Dick Houtman, professor of Sociology of Culture and Religion at the Center for Sociological Research (CeSO), University of Leuven, Belgium:

Science under Siege: Contesting the Secular Religion of Scientism

Zoom link

Please contact paolo.velasquez@umu.se for zoom link. 

Abstract
Sociological accounts of modernization and secularization have often been informed by the notion of a declining authority of religion that coincides with an increasing authority of science. This is not what has happened in the past half century. The authority of religion has declined, to be sure, but as a surprise to many the same has happened to that of science. The latter process is exemplified by the postmodern turn in academia, the way the Trump presidency disparages science and scientific facts, as well as understandings of science as a mere servant of evil, untrustworthy, and manipulative corporate and political elites in today’s virtually omnipresent conspiracy theories.

The edited volume Science under Siege (forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan in 2021) provides a cultural-sociological account of such contestations of the authority of science. In doing so, it highlights an important, yet oft-neglected commonality between religion and scientism: their shared acceptance of the notion of a ‘real’ truth that is binding to all. Indeed, the book’s empirical contributions demonstrate how three theories from the sociology of religion do also apply to the authority of science: 1) the theory of secularization, according to which modern cultural pluralism erodes religion’s capacity to legitimately overarch society as a whole; 2) the theory of the spiritual turn, according to which religious institutions and elites lose their authority, while the sacred itself does not; and 3) Durkheim’s and Weber’s classical accounts of how religious worldviews inform stances vis-à-vis the world beyond the strictly religious realm.

About Dick Houtman
Dick Houtman is Senior Full Professor of Sociology of Culture and Religion at the Center for Sociological Research (CeSO), University of Leuven, Belgium. His main research interest is cultural change in the West since the turbulent 1960s, with special attention to how the process has transformed politics, religion, consumption and science. Science under Siege: Contesting the Secular Religion of Scientism is his latest book, forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan in 2021 (co-edited with Stef Aupers and Rudi Laermans). He is now working on his next book, which addresses the romantic turn that has occurred in the West since the 1960s, provisionally titled The Hunt for Real Reality: The West on the Wings of Imagination. Further information about his research, and downloads of most of his publications, can be found on his personal website www.dickhoutman.nl.

Seminar
Contact
Paolo Velásquez
Read about Paolo Velásquez