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Deprivatization of Disbelief?: Non-Religiosity and Anti-Religiosity in 14 Western European Countries

  • Egbert Ribberink (a1), Peter Achterberg (a1) and Dick Houtman (a1)

This article aims to move beyond media discourse about “new atheism” by mapping and explaining anti-religious zeal among the public at large in 14 Western European countries. We analyze data from the International Social Survey Program, Religion III, 2008, to test two theories about how country-level religiousness affects anti-religiosity and its social bases: a theory of rationalization and a theory of deprivatization of disbelief. Hypotheses derived from the former are contradicted, whereas those derived from the latter are largely confirmed. Anti-religiosity is strongest among disbelievers and among the higher educated in the most religious countries and among the older generations in today's most secularized countries.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Egbert Ribberink, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
Peter Achterberg, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
Dick Houtman, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
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Politics and Religion
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