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Variations in Churchgoing Rates in England in 1851: Supply-side Deficiency or Demand-led Decline

  • Alasdair Crockett

    ()

    (Nuffield College, Oxford)

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    In the sociology of religion of the past thirty years or so, one can identify three major approaches to the relation of religion and modernity: secularization theory, the Stark-Bainbridge rational choice theory, and the Finke-Stark “supply-side” theory. In this paper, I study churchgoing rates in England in 1851 to examine which of these three theoretical approaches appears the most valid. Victorian England provides a compelling case study. Not only are the data very good (uniquely so in the case of Britain), but also England in 1851 takes us back to one of the original locales of urban-industrial development. My conclusion is that both “supply-side” (of religion) and “secularization” processes were influencing English churchgoing rates in 1851. However, the former were much more limited and transient in their effect, being restricted to isolated rural areas. In the more urban places, where most people lived, secularization processes were operating. There are parallels between this “duality” of process operating in rural and urban England in 1851 and the fact that churchgoing appears to have increased during the nineteenth century up to that point, but declined, unabated, thereafter.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2272/36Crockett.pdf
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    Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _036.

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    Length: 40 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_036
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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    1. Hans-Joachim Voth & Tim Leunig, 1996. "Did smallpox reduce height?: stature and the standard of living in London, 1770-1873," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 497, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Dan H. Andersen & Hans-Joachim Voth, 1997. "Neutrality and Mediterranean Shipping Under Danish Flag, 1750-1807," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _018, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    3. Hans-Joachim Voth, 1997. "Time and Work in Eighteenth-Century London," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _021, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    4. Paul A. David, 1997. "Path Dependence and the Quest for Historical Economics: One More chorus of Ballad of QWERTY," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _020, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    5. Avner Offer, 2000. "Economic Welfare Measurements and Human Well-Being," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _034, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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