Since the 1960s, much of twentieth-century British historiography has been written within an implicit ‘modernization’ paradigm. This framework argues that human societies are all roughly on the same developmental trajectory, and that as societies get richer and more technological, they will naturally tend to become more peaceful, more individualist, more equal, and more secular. On … Continue reading Historicising British Modernities
In global scholarship generally, the term ‘postsecular’ is having a bit of a moment: you can find it in history, in literary theory, in legal studies, in theology, in sociology, in postcolonial anthropology, in all kinds of places. But the term has many meanings, most of which are mutually incompatible (Beckford, 2012). This post takes ‘postsecular’ … Continue reading The ‘postsecular turn’ in contemporary British historiography
There are currently two major paradigms in British Sixties scholarship: my new book seeks to introduce a third. The orthodox accounts, mostly written in the 1990s and early 2000s, interpreted Britain's Sixties as a 'people's revolution'. In this view, the Sixties witnessed substantial changes amongst the mass of the population: moral change was prompted by … Continue reading Rethinking Britain’s Sixties
The phrase ‘secular revolution’, in the context of the Western Sixties, was, to the best of my knowledge, coined by Callum Brown, in his Religion and the Demographic Revolution (Brown, 2012). It is also a phrase I use in my work. But there are at least two potential meanings of this term: a ‘social’ usage, which I … Continue reading What was the 1960s ‘Secular Revolution’?
From the 1960s until quite recently, British historians have frequently used the term 'secular' in their own writing, on the assumption that the meaning of this term is widely-understood and obvious. But actually, there are at least three quite different uses of the term 'secular' in modern Western history, and we need to get them … Continue reading The Meaning of ‘The Secular’: A Very Brief History
Each kind of history-writing brings its own challenges. But it seems to me that writing contemporary history - that is, the history of one's own culture within living memory - is more difficult than it looks, precisely because it's so easy to underestimate the difficulties. *** In all human cultures, there's a central but often … Continue reading On Attempting to Write Contemporary History