Postsecularism and the Critique of Religion

Gregor McLennan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


In this chapter, I work with the rubric of postsecularism to revisit central questions about Marxism and religion. Those issues fell into abeyance from the 1970s to the 2000s, but they have emerged centre-stage once again, along with the ‘return’ of religion itself in social and political life. In order to process and assess the range of current approaches, I propose a typology, the components of which are ‘relative autonomy’, ‘anti-secularism’, ‘religionization’, and ‘theologism’. Additionally, a pervasive concern and argument is streamed through engagements with authors that I take to exemplify the schema: that while today’s postsecular sensibilities extend the areas of overlap between pluralistic Marxism and other critical-theoretical perspectives, Marxism loses much of its force without philosophical attachment to scientific naturalism as well as socio-historical explanation. To be sure, such commitments should be broadly conceived, and the latter takes priority. But together, these frames still entail principled s scepticism when it comes to the emphatic critiques of intellectual secularism that characterize the ‘re-thinking religion’ literature.

Keywords: Marxism, postsecularism, religion, theology, ontology, science
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sage Handbook of Marxism
EditorsBeverley Skeggs, Alberto Toscana, Sara Farris
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Number of pages20
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Marxism, postsecularism, religion, theology, ontology, science


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