Multiple Modernities and Popular Religions: Towards a Renewed Theoretical Framework

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Cristian PARKER GUMUCIO, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile
This paper attempts to understand contemporary popular religious phenomena from a comparative perspective in the context of multiple modernities.

The main purpose of this work is to shed light on old and new phenomena: religious transformations within the globalized and globalizing world. The classical theories of religious evolution are no longer useful to understand recent changes. The elaboration of a new theoretical framework for understanding the varieties of popular religions (folk religions and urban popular religions) in the world today with special focus on popular rituals and believes in the Global South, is needed.

The growing religious diversity and contemporary evolution of popular religions and spiritualities, mainly in Latin America, Africa and Asia, in comparative terms with Western Europe and North America reveals new cultural and religious patterns of changes that can only be explained and understood within the context of what has been called ‘multiple modernities’ (Eisenstadt), a dynamic process that shapes and characterizes current globalization.

The reflexive turn proposed here aims to counter-balance classical sociological theory of religious phenomenon that lack a comprehensive perspective to understand the meaning and ritual shifts that are taking place in popular religions all over the world. We discuss, extend and deepen a series of works already advanced by the researcher and many other scholars on lived religion (McGuire) and popular religions (Possamai), and to systematize accumulated recent knowledge from different sources to outline a new non-western-centric approach to popular religions.