as the latter was proven to be only one among many spiritual and religious options in the western sphere of Christianity after Luther's fateful act in 1517, churches throughout Europe and Russia after the events of 1789 faced the prospects of being politically and socially marginalised. Although Russia has been cast as coming late to the innovations of Europe, the reforms of Peter the Great and the confiscation of church lands by Catherine the Great preceded the events in Paris by several decades. The ultimate result in most countries was the separation of church and state and the replacement of the church's social functions with secular institutions of welfare and education. Chronology and extremism separates Russia from its European cousins, but essentially the effects of secularisation and modernisation on established Christian faiths were the same. Accordingly, one of the capstones of the modern era is the marginalisation of religion in society and culture, or the radical transformation of dominant faiths to accommodate public and personal disaffection with traditional forms of belief and practice. The leading schemes of this process emphasise the subordination of dominant churches to secular political authority and the consequent withdrawal of religion from the public sphere. Where religious institutions once served important social functions through philanthropic and educational efforts, they now faced increasing competition from nonsectarian social welfare activities of the government or private institutions and the well-trained and better-funded state primary and secondary schools.45 At different times and in different ways, most of Europe struggled in the nineteenth century as traditional ways of life among elites and commoners reacted to the secularising by-products ofindustrialisation and modernisation. The Europe of 1800 was radically different politically, socially and culturally from Europe at the end of World War I, and nowhere was this more apparent than in Russia, which had begun its extreme attempt at departure from the past by legally separating church and state and by introducing increasingly restrictive measures against all forms of public religiosity.
As scholars began to question the usefulness of grand and generalising social and cultural theories in the 1960s and 1970s, secularisation as a concept fell under a cloud of suspicion. Studies of the people - peasants and workers alike - and their faith stood at the centre of these critiques as social historians shifted their attention from elites to the subordinated classes. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Natalie Zemon Davis forged new paths towards the
45 B. Wilson, Religionin secular society (New York: Penguin Books, 1969); D. Martin, Ageneral theory of secularization (New York: Harper and Row, 1978); K. Dobbelaere, 'Secularization: a multi-dimensional concept', Current Sociology 29 (Summer 1981), 1-216.
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