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The empirical study of religious authority

Patrikios, S. (2009) The empirical study of religious authority. Science and Society [Episteme kai Koinonia, in Greek], 21. ISSN 0036-8237

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The empirical evaluation of secularization theory mainly employs quantitative data related to individual religiosity. However, the recent concept of 'religious authority' shifts the focus of quantitative analysis from individual religiosity to the differentiation between the religious sphere and other spheres of social life. This shift creates an interesting research potential, especially when trends in individual religiosity diverge from trends in the scope of religious authority in a society. Individual religiosity may wither, while at the same time religious authority remains strong. In this article, I present an empirical validation of the concept of religious authority using quantitative data. The analysis suggests that Greece is a case where diverging trends distinguish individual religiosity from religious authority. Implications are discussed for the presumed linear evolution of the phenomenon of secularization.