Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version

Concept coined by Claude Lévi-Strauss, first used in the sociology of religion by Thomas Luckmann. It signals the individualization of religion: People "pick and choose" what to believe, selecting their preferred religious practices and ethical options. This phenomenon has been called "religion à la carte" because people disregard the set church "menu": In their religious outlook, they mix elements from different religious and incorporate folk-religious practices, superstitions, and ideas typical of psychoanalysis and group dynamics. As a consequence, one may allude to religious recomposition or refer to a patchwork: different elements integrated in a personal religious system.

Karel Dobbelaere


R. W. Bibby, Fragmented Gods (Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 1987)

T. Luckmann, "The Structural Conditions of Religious Consciousness in Modern Societies," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 6(1979):121-137

L. Voyé, "From Institutional Catholicism to Christian Inspiration," in The Post-War Generation and Establishment Religion , ed. W. C. Roof et al. (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1995): 191-206.

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