Secularization, desecularization, and toleration: Toward an agency-focused reassessment

Vyacheslav Karpov*, Manfred Svensson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The narrative according to which secularization engenders toleration originated in the Enlightenment epoch and until recently had been largely taken for granted in the social sciences and humanities. It presumes that the progress of toleration is inseparably linked to the deepening secularization of modern society. This chapter shows how the disintegration of the grand theory of secularization and the scrutiny of the history of toleration have undermined the credibility of the influential narrative. In its place, we propose a theoretical framework that abandons the failed grand narratives yet retains the analytical concepts of multiple secularizations, desecularizations, and forms of toleration. We lay out the theoretical prolegomena for a cross-disciplinary reconsideration of toleration's relationship with secularization and desecularization, proposing an agency-focused approach to both phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecularization, Desecularization, and Toleration
Subtitle of host publicationCross-Disciplinary Challenges to a Modern Myth
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9783030540463
ISBN (Print)9783030540456
StatePublished - 22 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Agency
  • Desecularization
  • Enlightenment
  • Process
  • Secularization
  • Toleration


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