The role of religious certainty and uncertainty in moral orientation in a catholic province in the Netherlands

Knibbe, K., Mar-2008, In : Social Compass. 55, 1, p. 20-30 11 p.

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  • The Role of Religious Certainty and Uncertainty

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In the post-secularization debates about the role of religion in contemporary European societies, social scientists and philosophers often build on (speculative) sociological theories as to whether the conditions of life in (high) modernity produce existential insecurities that give rise to a need for a particular kind of religiosity. This religiosity is seen as rooted in the only things that still seem to provide some basis for certainity: experience and the self. In this article the author argues that a focus on processes of signification reveals that both religious certainity and religious uncertainity can be a strong source for moral orientation in contemporary Limburg (in the Netherlands), but does not necessarily lead to a stronger emphasis on experience and the self. Fundamental to this argument is Jackson's insight into practices of signification as a ceaseless negotiation of the boundary between two domains: the domain considered to be susceptible to human control, and the domain outside human control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Compass
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2008
Externally publishedYes


  • catholicism, post-secularization, Limburg, practices of signification, moral orientation, Netherlands

ID: 71623603