Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Modernization and Religious Purification: Islam in Indonesia

Tamney, Joseph. 1980. "Modernization and Religious Purification: Islam in Indonesia". Review of Religious Research. 22 (2): 207-218.

Modernization, or, more specifically, education and urbanization, has been associated with secularization. Some writers, however, suggest that modern people are not so much secular but religiously different. In this paper I test the idea that modernization is associated with the purification of religious lifestyles. Data come from a stratified random sample of Javanese (N=1667). The main findings are that education and community size are related to the decline of folk religion and to a net increase in the proportion of Muslims who are active religious purists. It is suggested that modernization favors purification, not so much because modern people reject syncretism, as because they abandon magical practices.

In this paper it was suggested that a consequence of modernization is religious purification. Education and, to some extent, urbanization are associated with the decline of folk practices. Moreover, Santri religiosity is more frequent among the most modern compared to the least modern. But the frequency of pure folk religion declines --in fact, disappears-- with modernization. Thus, our results suggest that purification results from the destruction of folk religion as a differentiated religious tradition, not from a deliberate attempt to purge one's religion of elements from other religious traditions.

The evidence does not suggest that modernization favors making one's religious life-style consistent; however, being modern does seem associated with the rejection of magical practices. But it should not be assumed that the decline of a folk religion is due only to the impact of science on magic. Since modern people may be aware of international cultural diversity and that religions tend to become culture bound, they might reject folk elements because these practices undermine the universalistic claims of modern religions. The value of this explanation is that it accounts for attempts to eliminate folk religions in all parts of the world, no matter how developed.

No comments:

Post a Comment