Date of Award


Document Type



Christian Studies

First Reader

Dr. Terry Carter

Second Reader

Dr. Janice Duncan

Third Reader

Dr. Scott Duvall


Steeped in a heavily religious history, Europe and specifically France provide an intriguing backdrop for a closer look into secularization in present-day Orleans, France. Many various approaches to secularization theory have arisen over the past sixty years. This paper explores the evolution of secularization theory, delving into Mark Chaves' "New Differentiation Theory", based upon religious authority's influence on t he individual, societal, and institutional levels. Though created by an American academician, the "New Differentiation Theory'' provides a new basis of analysis with which one may draw conclusions regarding the state of secularization in a European city (in this case Orleans, France). Beginning with the broader European context then moving toward the specific case in Orleans, t his paper analyzes historical facts and personal interview data from 100 French in Orleans in light of Chaves' categorical approach. This paper utilizes Chaves' secularization theory in order to investigate the interesting trends of religious authority's influence in Orleans, France, thus providing valuable data and analyses for future research in the field of secularization theory and religion.



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