(Post)Secularization in Modern Political Philosophy

The course explores philosophical ideas about the place and role of religion in the context of western modernity. The central topic which the course focuses on is the concept ’secularization,’ its origins, meaning, development and the critical assessment of ’secularization’ in the ’post-secularization’ discourses. Reading both primary sources and scholarly texts, students will acquire necessary knowledge and skills for analyzing the relationship between modern society and modern (nation) State and church/religion.

At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of the major modern theories of secularization;
  • Explain the reasons behind the crisis of classical secularization theories and the rise of ‘post-secular’ or ‘post-secularization’ discourses;
  • Analyze the relationship between religion and the socio-political sphere, between the Church and the State, in the context of western modernity

The course literature may be subject to revision.

All students will be required to read the following texts (or selected chapters):

Primary Sources:

Machiavelli, Discourses (30 p.)

Luther, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (15 p.)

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (45 p.)

de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (80 p.)

Hobbes, Leviathan (50 p.)

Secondary texts:

Asad, Talal (2003). Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press (55 p.)

Beiner R. (1993). “Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau on Civil Religion,” in The Review of Politics, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 617-638.

Berger, Peter L. (1990). The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York: Anchor Books (60 p.)

Berger, Peter (Ed.) (1999). The Desecularizaion of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Grand Rapids: William Eerdmans. (80 p.)

Bernstein R.J. (2009). “The Secular-Religious Divide: Kant’s Legacy” in Social Research, Vol. 76 No 4, Winter 2009, pp.1035-1048.

Calhoun, Craig, et al. (Eds.) (2011). Rethinking Secularism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (120 p.)

Casanova, Jose (1994). Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (60 p.)

Cox, Harvey (2016). The Market as God. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press (250 p.)

Gentile Emilio (2006). Politics as Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press (170 p.)

Gorski, Philip, et al. (Eds.). The Post-Secular in Question: Religion in Contemporary Society. New York: New York University Press, 2012. (80 p.)

Kateb G. (2009). “Locke and the Political Origins of Secularism,” in Social Research Vol. 76 No 4, Winter 2009, pp.1001-1034

Norris Pippa, Inglehart Ronal (2004). Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (180 p.)

Pecora, Vincent P. Secularization and Cultural Criticism: Religion, Nation, and Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. (170 p.)

Safran, William (Ed.). The Secular and the Sacred: Nation, Religion and Politics. London: Frank Cass, 2003. (180 p.)

Seaman, J. W. (1999). Hobbes and the Liberalization of Christianity, Canadian Journal of Pol No. 2 (Jun 1999), pp. 227-246.

Sullivan, W. Fallers (2009). “We Are All Religious Now. Again.,” in Social Research Vol. 76 No 4, Winter 2009, pp.1181-1198.

Turner, B.S. (2011). Religion and Modern Society. Citizenship, Secularization and the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (280 p.)

Additional texts/handouts may also be assigned.

The schedule is available at the latest one month before the course starts. We do not recommend that you print the schedule as some changes may happen.

Open the Schedule

Michael Hjälm

Head of Department of Eastern Christian Studies, Doctor of Theology, Senior Lecturer


A = Excellent, B = Very good, C = Good, D = Satisfactory, E = Sufficient, Fx = Insufficient, F = Insufficient

Examination Format

  • Papers
  • Seminars
  • Take-home examination
  • Written examination

Godkända kurser för en kandidatexamen i teologi/religionsvetenskap, 180 hp, där minst 150 hp utgörs av teologi/religionsvetenskap eller motsvarande. Dessutom kunskaper i engelska motsvarande kraven för grundläggande behörighet.

Established by Subject Representative College at Enskilda Högskolan Stockholm on December 18, 2019.

Last revised on January 22, 2020.