9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS11 Religion and the Sociology of Religion in Europe

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Religion and the Sociology of Religion in Europe III Building AA, Auditorio Afonso de Barros

The imperfect secularization. Young people and the Italian way to secularization

How is it possible that 84% of Italian young people are Catholic but only 20% attend religious services at least once a week? How is it possible that young people today are less religious than in the past but at the same time the Catholicism maintains its supremacy almost intact?
The paper tries to answer to these questions, testing some of the main hypotheses related to the paradigm of secularization. By analysising data of a subsample of 1003 Italian young people between 16 and 34 years old collected within a survey, carried out in 2006, on a representative national sample of 3160 people aged between 16 and 74. The data on young people collected in 2006 were compared with those of adults collected in the same survey and with those relating to young people from an earlier investigation on the religiosity in Italy carried out in 1994.
The argument is that in Italy the process of secularization can't be accomplished. It's true that today young people in Italy are seemingly more secularized than in past: from 1994 to 2006 the percentage of young Italians who are totally detached from the main dimensions of religiosity(such as belief, practice or importance attached to religion in life) has increased. On the basis of indicators of religiosity proposed by Inglehart and Norris (2006), we find that 32% of young people in 2006 show a high degree of secularization, compared to 23% in 1994. But many other evidences suggest that religiosity is still present among young Italians, even though under different forms from those pointed out by the theories of the "revival" of the religious (neo-fundamentalist movements, new religious movements, religious and individual re-enchantment). The data suggests that in Italy young people all new forms of religiosity are influenced by Catholic culture.