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Piety by the Numbers: Social Science and Polish Debates about Secularization in the 1960s and 1970s

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience, Religion and Communism in Cold War Europe
EditorsPaul Betts, Stephen Smith
Place of PublicationHoundsmills, Basingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages35-54
Number of pages20
Volume1
ISBN (Print)9781137546388
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016

King's Authors

Abstract

This essay examines the statistics on devotional practice generated by sociological studies in Poland in the 1960s and the 1970s, as well as the ways in which church-affiliated and secular, regime-affiliated scholars tried to make sense of those statistics. Jim Bjork argues that these debates involved a surprising degree of underlying consensus about Poland’s susceptibility to forces of secularization driven by economic modernization. Divergent visions of Poland’s religious future ultimately depended on which regional data were seen as typical and which were seen as anomalous. The narration of a particular story of Polish religious exceptionalism did not ensure the path that Poland subsequently followed in the era of John Paul II, but it did help to make it imaginable and explainable.

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