A Study of the Evolution of Religiosity in Western European Societies from 1980 to 2010

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, Department of Regional Studies, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 PhD Student in Regional Studies, Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Examining the role of religion and the evolution of religiosity in Western European societies, as secular societies, has always been important. Given the period from 1980 to 2010, this article seeks to answer the question of what changes religiosity has undergone in Western European societies, especially in the two dimensions of belief in religion and practice of religious beliefs. To answer this question, we have used the survey method and data analysis. In this regard, a survey program entitled "Study of European Values" examined the ideas, attitudes and values ​​of citizens in various fields including religion and religiosity since 1981 and in the form of five study waves (1981, 1990, 1999, 2008 and 2017). The survey data have been used in this article to explain and analyze the discussion. Considering indicators such as theism, religious rites, church attendance rate and adherence to traditional rituals in important matters of life (birth, marriage and death), the findings of this study show that the process of secularization in Western European countries, both in terms of belief in religion and in terms of practice of religious beliefs, has intensified and the role of religion in the lives of Western European societies is much more declining than before.


Aarts, Olav; Need, Ariana; Te Grotenhui, Manfred; De Graaf, Nan Dirk. 2008. "Does Belonging Accompany Believing? Correlations and Trends in Western Europe and North Amerika between 1981 and 2000". In: Review of Religious Research 2008, vol. 50 (1), pp. 16-34.
Abou-Youssef, Mariam; Kortam, Wael; Abou-Aish, Ehab; El-Bassiouny, Noha. 2011. "Measuring Islamic-Driven Buyer Behavioral Implications: A Proposed Market-Minded Religiosity Scale". In: Journal of American Science, 7 (8).
Brown, Callum G. 2009.The Death of Christian Britain Understanding Secularization 1800–2000. In: The Taylor & Francis e-Library.
Casanova, José. 2009. "The Religious Situation in Europe". In: Secularization and the World Religions, Edited by Hans Joas, Liverpool University Press.
European Values Study. 2019. The European Values Study (1981, 1990, 1999, 2008), available at: https://europeanvaluesstudy.eu/ (2019, 9, 28).
Folmer, Henk; Beaumont, Justin; Abdul Hamid, Ahmad Fauzi. 2014. "Secularization in Western Society: An Overview of the Main Determinant. In: Pensee Journal, vol. 76, no. 6.
Halman, Loek. 2009. "Value Change in Western European Societies: Results from the European Values Study”, available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242221510
Holdcroft, Barbara B. 2006. "What Is Religiosity?". In: Journal of Catholic Education, 10 (1), http://dx.doi.org/10.15365/joce.1001082013
Hunt, Stephen. 2002. Religion in Western Society, NewYork: Palgrave.
Khodayari Fard; et al. 2013. Meghyas-hay Dindari (Scales of Religiosity), Tehran: Away Nur. [in Farsi]
Nicolet, Sarah; Tresch, Anke. 2009. "From Practicing Christians to Post-Traditional Believers? The Evolution of "Belonging" and "Believing" in Western Europe", In: ECPR, Lisbon, pp. 13-20.
Norris, Pippa; Inglehart, Robert. 2006. "God, Guns and Gays, Supply and Demand of Religion in the US and Western Europe". In: Public Policy research, (This essay first appeared in the Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, published by Cambridge University Press)
Pearce, Lisa D.; Hayward, George M.; Pearlman, Jessica A. 2017. "Measuring Five Dimensions of Religiosity across Adolescence". In: Rev Relig Res 59: 367–393, DOI 10.1007/s13644-017-0291-8.
Pérez-Nievas, Santiago; Cordero, Guillermo. 2010. "Religious Change in Europe (1980-2008)", Paper to be presented at the SISP Annual Conference, pp. 1-29.
Pierre, Berschon. 2018. Din dar Jawame Modern (Religion in Modern Societies), Translated by Ali Reza Khoddami, Tehran: Ney. [in Farsi]
Sahgal, Neha; Kooperman, Alan; Shiller, Anna 2018. "Five Centuries after Reformation, Catholic-Protestant Divide in Western Europe Has Faded". In: Pew Research Center, available at: http://www.americanscience.org.
Salleh, Muhammad Syukri. 2012. "Religiosity in Development: A Theoretical Construct of an Islamic Based Development". In: International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 2, no. 14.
Smith, Tom W. 2012. "Beliefs about God across Time and Countries". NORC/University of Chicago, Report for ISSP and GESIS.