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The Passing of Protestant England
Secularisation and Social Change, c.1920–1960


  • Date Published: December 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521839778

£ 72.00

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About the Authors
  • In this book S. J. D. Green offers an important account of the causes, courses and consequences of the secularisation of English society. He argues that the critical cultural transformation of modern English society was forged in the agonised abandonment of a long-domesticated Protestant, Christian tradition between 1920 and 1960. Its effects were felt across the nation and among all classes. Yet their significance in the evolution of contemporary indigenous identities remains curiously neglected in most mainstream accounts of post-Victorian Britain. Dr Green traces the decline of English ecclesiastical institutions after 1918. He also investigates the eclipse of once-common moral sensibilities during the years up to 1945. Finally, he examines why subsequent efforts to reverse these trends so comprehensively failed. His work will be of enduring interest to modern historians, sociologists of religion, and all those concerned with the future of faith in Britain and beyond.

    • Up-to-date, wide-reaching and readable analysis of the process and impact of secularisation
    • Multidisciplinary approach, linking historical and sociological perspectives
    • Highly relevant to contemporary arguments about faith and society in Britain
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'A powerful, provocative and pessimistic account that will compel ecclesiastical historians to revisit some of their views about the viability of twentieth-century Protestantism.' Michael Bentley, Professor of Modern History, University of St Andrews

    Review of the hardback: 'In previous work S. J. D. Green has proved he can master the small detail of religious change. With The Passing of Protestant England Green shows that he is also the master of the big argument. With erudition and wit, he brings the pendulum of historical fashion back to the sensible conclusion that there has indeed been a considerable secularization of English society.' Steve Bruce, Professor of Sociology, University of Aberdeen

    Review of the hardback: 'The analysis is impressive, and also highly evocative …' The Spectator

    Review of the hardback: 'A mightily important book … a wonderful read.' Standpoint

    Review of the hardback: 'This is an important study of the interplay of Protestantism and society in mid-twentieth-century England. It offers the reader a well-researched and deeply analytical look at how the English became a secular people and how pleasure and self-gratification replaced spirituality. Many may question where English society is headed in the future, but this book will give them a fine view of how the English got to where they are.' Michael McCabe, Journal of Church and State

    Review of the hardback: '[Green's] book will prove a starting point for understanding religion in Britain over the past fifty years.' The Times Literary Supplement

    Review of the hardback: '… an immensely sophisticated and rich contribution to the scholarship.' Jeremy Morris, The Historical Journal

    'Green has produced a rich and detailed work, which, in the sum of its parts, adds significantly to the historiography of secularization. This is a book that shows the importance of the political in shaping and effecting religious change and that the religious changes that occurred across the twentieth century avoid easy explanation.' Journal of British Studies

    'Green weaves a fascinating narrative, bolstering his brief with a staggering number of telling case-studies, in the later years including Seebohm Rowntree's English Life and Leisure (1951), the 1944 Education Act, the debates of the fifties and early sixties, the changing role of women, sociological models, and 'contemporary visions of revival [that] proved to be brief delusions' … This is a rich, scholarly book, incorporating a lifetime's work.' The Australian Journal of Politics and History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521839778
    • length: 342 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Outline of the Problem:
    1. Towards a social history of religion in modern Britain: secularisation theory, religious change and the fate of Protestant England
    2. Religion in the twilight zone: a narrative of religious decline and religious change in Britain, c.1920–60
    Part II. Disclosures of Decline:
    3. The 'soul of England' in an 'age of disintegration': Dean Inge and the 'trial of the churches' in the wake of World War I
    4. The strange death of Puritan England
    5. Social science and the discovery of a post-Protestant people: Rowntree's surveys of York and their other legacy
    Part III. Resistance, Revival and Resignation:
    6. The 1944 Education Act: a church-state perspective
    7. Was there an English religious revival in the 1950s?
    8. Slouching towards a secular society: expert analysis and lay opinion in the early 1960s
    Conclusion: the passing of Protestant England.

  • Author

    S. J. D. Green, All Souls College, Oxford

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