Secularization of Western European School System?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Simon GORDT, University of Bern, Switzerland
The formation of national education systems during the 19th century marks the beginning of modern schooling (Green 1990). During this process school as an institution has been established as a public institution (Herrlitz et al. 1984). Originally, education was part of the churches domain for centuries (Davie 2000) but became a fundamental feature of the state and replaced the churches from their responsibility eventually (Mann & Schinkele 2005, Lehmann 2007).

Based on the assumptions that “the religious and the secular are inextricably linked throughout modern European history” (Casanova 2009: 227) I argue that educational institutionalization follows basic patterns of secularization: religious institutions lose their social significance and their grasp on the agencies of social control and withdraw from their classical sphere of influence (Wilson 1982, Berger 1973).

The state was strongly aided by the Church’s example of both administrative structure and claims to original sovereignty (Ramirez & Boli 1987). Next to these religious and political processes mass education is an outcome of economic processes and social power relations (Müller et al. 1997; Boli et al. 1985). Together those processes are responsible for differences in the institutional arrangements.

Hence, this paper will analyse the religious influence on modern schooling. To what extent does the church-based influence differs within the European school systems and why are there differences in their educational institutions?

According to Martin (1978) the different church-state nexuses influence social structures.  They are interconnected by cultural heritage and religious pluralism. Next to these conditions the political system (Rokkan 1999, Archer 1979), the economic development (Cummings 2004) and social differentiation within a society (Soysal & Strang 1989) function as explaining conditions.

In general, it is expected that these factors explain different types of religiously imprinted educational systems.