You are here: Home / Events / How Does the State Structure Secularization? Administrative Centralization and Religious Instruction in Australian and American Public Schools, ca. 1850-1950

How Does the State Structure Secularization? Administrative Centralization and Religious Instruction in Australian and American Public Schools, ca. 1850-1950


Feb 19, 2010 11:30 AM

Feb 19, 2010 01:00 PM

ABSTRACT: Why does secularization proceed more rapidly in some otherwise similar modern countries

than in others? In this paper, I use a comparison of religious education in Australian and American public

schools from 1850 to 1950 to argue that the structure of the state plays a crucial role in determining

how far and how quickly secularization proceeds. State structure affects secularization by constraining

or facilitating two crucial secularizing processes: religious conflict and professionalization. In the United

States, a decentralized system of local school boards encouraged the growth of a vibrant professional

infrastructure and provided multiple access points for religious minorities to challenge pan-Protestant

religious exercises. By contrast, Australia’s highly centralized educational bureaucracies inhibited

educators’ attempts to professionalize, and reduced minorities’ ability to influence curricular decisions.

These administrative differences contributed to the persistence of religious instruction in Australian

public schools, and its slow decline in American schools, between 1850 and 1950.


Dana Williams
John Hall


Damon Mayrl (UC Berkeley)

PDF document icon Mayrl.pdf — PDF document, 406 kB (416233 bytes)

You are Here
Sociology

1283 Social Sciences & 
Humanities 
University of California, 
Davis 
One Shields Avenue 
Davis, CA 95616

(530) 752-0782 phone
(530) 752-0783 fax

Map and Additional Contact Information

Make a Gift

Giving matters at UC Davis. For more than a century, donors have been helping the university address the issues that matter most to California, the nation and the world.  The Department of Sociology is dedicated to achieving excellence. Your gift can help.

Make a gift