Historicka Sociologie (Oct 2017)

Reflections on American Religiosity from an Eliasian Point of View

  • Stephen Mennell

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2010, no. 1
pp. 9 – 29


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From a European point of view, one of the most puzzling aspects of the contemporary USA is the large proportion of its citizens who assent to belief in the supernatural. In sociology, that has given rise to a debate about whether secularising Europe or the religious USA represents ‘normality’ and which is ‘exceptional’. In this essay, the work of Norbert Elias is used in an explanatory way to shed light on the peculiarities of America. Although Elias has often been accused of neglecting religion in his theory of civilising processes, it is argued that his closely related sociological theory of knowledge and the sciences is useful in this context.