The European Values Study is a pan-European project which utilises an omnibus
survey focusing especially on values associated with work, religion, lifestyles and other issues. Its most recent data gathering exercise was in 2008, the fourth of its kind.
This study focuses on changing religious values in Ireland over the span of the EVS (1981-2008) and examines the rise in secularism and the rapid decrease in church participation, which brings Ireland much close to European norms.
The data to hand suggest a variety of important social questions: If religious and social values and attitudes are changing, what are the implications for Irish society? As we become an increasingly educated society in quantifiable terms, what is happening to our value and belief systems? Does the erosion of church practice mean the erosion of values or are we simply witnessing transference of allegiance from institutions to self?
Some commentators suggest that reduction of care and concern for others, a reduced sense of God, and a minimised approach to things religious, allied with a rise in liberalism, are not of themselves harbingers of prosperity and joy for society; the opposite they contend is true, and will result in decreased happiness and increased alienation.
Is it incontrovertible that Ireland will be different in the future, that the social map will have very different contours, especially in relation to institutional religion. As the Irish let go of things deeply rooted in their culture and tradition, is this simply a matter of becoming a mature nation amongst the nations of Europe?
|Keywords:||Religion, Europe, European Values Study, Values, Church Practice, Spirituality, Secularization|
Dean of Arts, Faculty of Arts, University of Limerick, Limerick, Munster, Ireland
PhD Student, Media and Communication Studies, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Munster, Ireland