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Abstract

This essay discusses recent trends in the German-language sociology of religion. It traces how strong theoretical roots and intensive empirical scrutiny of East- West differences after German reunification have produced distinctive contributions to the international debate about secularization theory and its long-held assumptions about religious decline, privatization, and differentiation. Their result has been a deliberate move towards middle-range theories that analyze contextually situated processes of religious transformation across a wide range of modern societies. The essay also reviews novel trends in empirical research emerging from dialogue and competition with neighboring disciplinary fields (e.g., migration studies) and discusses novel attempts to theorize cultural processes of sacralization and discursive formations of religion that, jointly, have pushed the field even more beyond the secularization debate. In conclusion, the essay suggests some directions in which the sociology of religion might be moving - in Germany and elsewhere.

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