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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the concepts of individualization and privatization as heuristic rather than explanatory tools for an analysis of contemporary and past religion. It takes Thomas Luckmann’s concept of invisible religion as its point of departure and locates ‘privatization’ within the history of sociological theories in the 1960s. ‘Individualization’ is analyzed as a part of sociological rather than historical theorizing about overarching social processes that were thought to be a defining part of ‘modernity.’ A critique of such views as part of auto-stereotypes of Western concepts of modernity and superiority leads to the suggestion to take up the potential of ‘individualization’ for comparative and historical analyses also for premodern and non-Western societies. It is suggested to distinguish different, and even contradictory, types of individuality. Finally, the problem of the paradoxical coupling of processes of individualization and de-individualization is discussed.

Keywords: individuality, individualization, individuation, modernity, privatization of religion, religion

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