Workshop Title: Democracy and Religion

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1 ECPR Joint Sessions 2007 Workshop proposal Sigrid Roßteutscher University of Mannheim and Mannheim Center for European Research (MZES), Germany Workshop Title: Democracy and Religion Religion is definitely in-vogue, academically and as a real-world phenomenon. Much of the present currency of the debate on religion s role in and for democracy is inspired by concern about: the brutality of Muslim radicalism after September 11; the role of the religious right in American politics; and the advent of fundamentalism all over the world. For those (intellectuals, in particular) who believed in the irreversible progress of secularization and the coming end of religion and suspicion in an enlightened world, the contemporaneous religious revival is highly troubling. At the same time, most European nations and their dominant Christian churches seem to comply with the secularization thesis: fewer and fewer individuals are committed to their national churches and regular church-going is clearly a minority sport. On a much less dramatic scale (and much less noticed by a broader public), theories of participation, civil society or social capital emphasized the democratically beneficial role of Christianity (and Protestantism, in particular) from democracy s formative years up to present-day associative life. Putnam s civic decline thesis is closely linked to the observation of shrinking numbers of participants in what Americans call mainline churches and church groups. Catholics and Catholic associations have never had the reputation of facilitating democratic development in past or contemporary politics. However, the former Pope s role in the Eastern European anti-communist revolutions has been noted by many. With regard to the Muslim world, religion and religious fundamentalism and democratic transition appear to be outright opposites, almost impossible to reconcile. From a theoretical and empirical point of view many questions need to be addressed in a more systematic manner: i) Why has there been a religious revival in so many locations around the world?; ii) Does this represent a threat to the future of democratic governance or can it be reconciled with it?; iii) Are there different effects on citizens and the state depending upon the nature of the faith?, and iv) What role does the state play? Under the rule of law and constitutional guarantees of freedom of opinion, can governments suppress the wrong kind of religious fervour and nourish more beneficial variants?

2 Relation to existing research: The current debate on religions role in (advanced and less advanced) democracies is fuelled by a number of lively sub-debates and a series of highly visible and shocking events with the burning of Scandinavian embassies (in February 2006) being the most recent manifestation of fundamentalist violence: i) The philosophical-theological and political debate about the prospects of democracy in the Muslim world and the potential for reconciling Islamic values and norms with Western concepts of liberty and freedom. ii) The debate about the advent of fundamentalism as a feature of ALL religious faiths and the role it might play in undermining democracy and democracy s ability to find compromises between the faithful and the less so and between different faiths iii) The highly politicized debate of whether Islamic fundamentalism and an emerging religious rigour in the Western world will end in a clash of civilizations and what such a religious international conflict might mean for a newly emerging world order. iv) The discussion about the beneficial role of religious participation and religious beliefs in creating an engaged citizenry, in educating values and norms of altruism and sympathy to the weaker in society and in establishing some basic consensus about fair and just (re-)distribution of societal resources. v) The sociological debate of whether the thesis of secularization holds or whether we are simply witnessing the decline and replacement of the previously dominant old churches by new and more individualist forms of religious belief and practice. vi) The controversial debate within the sociology of religion of whether religious markets function like other markets, in the sense that state regulation and religious monopoly hamper religious participation, while the free market and religious competition will lead to a healthy and attractive product that will enhance religious consumption. Looking at the present debates in the field of religion one observes a split in two sub-groups or sub-debates: one part of the debate takes issue with the negative impact of religious revival movements and focuses almost exclusively on Islam and fundamentalism. The second part is concerned with the beneficial side of religious engagement, laments its decline and focuses almost exclusively on the Western Christian world. 2

3 It is the aim of this workshop to examine the twin processes of revival and fundamentalism, and secularization and decline by linking them explicitly to issues of democratization, democratic transition, democratic consolidation and the prospects for democratic governance. Much of the present debates have a clear sociological basis and/or a strong populist undercurrent. In many respects, empirical evidence is scarce, or restricted to single countries and time periods. Hard theoretical-historical and/or empirical evidence concerning the democratic contribution and consequences of religious participation is also sparse. This workshop responds to these unresolved issues and poses two major questions: How significant is the fundamentalist turn and the religious revival and how does it relate to the prospects of democracy? What exactly are the types of faiths who experience a movement towards fundamentalism? Is this move related to certain types of denominations, states, or societies? Who are the carriers of such revival movements? Who are the entrepreneurs? Are fundamentalism and secularization two separate developments or, and in what respect, is one a response to the other? AND: Under what conditions is fundamentalism a threat to democracy? Or: are present-day moderate (and democracy supporting) faiths not yesterday s fundamentalists? Is secularization and the separation of church and state, a precondition for successful democratic development? Or: will the further progress of secularization undermine the value consensus and social solidarity that fuels the trouble-free functioning of contemporary democracy and welfare states? These last issues lead to a second array of themes this workshop would address: What is the substantial positive contribution of religious participation to contemporary democracy? What are religious associations concrete democratic potential? What are the crucial features of religious participation and values that might contribute to an improvement or prevent deterioration of present-day (advanced) democracy? Which types of denominations have beneficial effects? Are there any specific types of faiths that are inimical to democracy? What types of religious norms and values aid democratic governance and which types undermine it? Can we have the beneficial ones without the pathological types? To what extent can states and governments impact on patterns and types of religious participation? What impact do religious groups and associations have on the citizens that participate in them? What is the relationship between religious and political modes of participation? 3

4 Workshop Participation: The workshop would welcome theoretical/conceptual (including historical explanations of the role of certain denominations in establishing democracy or preventing the formation of democratic regimes) and empirical papers that contribute to an understanding of religion s role in the improvement (and deterioration) of past and present-day democracy. In both theoretical/historical and empirical papers the main concern should be the link between democracy and the religious/denominational sector, i.e. the link between the political/profane and the sacred. The workshop would be open to all scholars who participate in these debates. The intention is to organize a workshop with an innovative and potentially stimulating mix of scholars from a variety of intellectual backgrounds. In addition to this an eclectic demographic mix of academics would be sought, thus the participation of established academics, new entrants to the profession, postgraduate students, and scholars from southern and central/east Europe will be welcomed. Additionally, some space should be reserved for academics from non-western background. Type of paper: The workshop would especially welcome papers which either try to give a theoretical or historical explanation for the religious/fundamentalist turn in contemporary politics (the how). And/or empirical papers which examine associations potential contribution to both the qualitative and quantitative improvement of democracy (the what). All papers should focus directly on the link between democracy and the religious sector - i.e. the link between the political and the sacred - and the possible (negative or positive) impact of the religious sector on democracy and the prospects for improving democratic decision-making. About the author: Sigrid Roßteutscher is a reader at the University of Mannheim, Department of Political Science and project director at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES). Her main interest is in political, social and religious participation, values and social inequality and in concepts of democracy. Her most recent publications are in the field of social capital, civil society, religion, democratic theories about associative democracy and associations role in contemporary democracy and the re-construction of present-day welfare states. She currently completes a book on the democratic role of religious groups and religious participation in different European civil societies. In 1997, she obtained her Ph.D. at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy. 4

5 (for more information see or: Most recent publications: Maloney, William and Sigrid Roßteutscher (2006) (eds.): Social Capital and Associations in European Democracies: A Comparative Analysis, London: Routledge (in press). (includes 5 contribution of the author) Roßteutscher, Sigrid (2005) (ed.): Democracy and the Role of Associations: Political, Organizational and Social Contexts, London: Routledge. (includes 3 contribution of the author) Roßteutscher, Sigrid (2005): State Regulation, Religious Pluralism and the Generation of Social Capital, Internationale Conference on Civic Engagement and Values in the United States and Europe, Georgetown-University, Washington, D.C. 2005, Dezember. Roßteutscher, Sigrid (2005): Wertsynthese: kein unsinniges Konzept, sondern traurige Realität. Replik zur Kritik von Helmut Thome, in: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 57 (3), Roßteutscher, Sigrid (2004): Explaining Politics: An empirical test of competing value measures, in: European Journal of Political Research 43 (5), Roßteutscher, Sigrid (2004): Von Realisten und Konformisten Wider die Theorie der Wertsynthese, in: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 56 (3),

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