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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Contested Religious Affiliation. The Plurality of the Religious Landscape of Europe between Familiar Categories and New Religious Identities

Europe (Central and Eastern)
European Politics
European Union
National Identity
Antonius Liedhegener
University of Lucerne
Antonius Liedhegener
University of Lucerne

The relationships persons can hold to that phenomenon usually called religion are manifold individually. This seems to hold for any area and century. However, on the societal level, religion and religious behavior are much more restricted. Customs, laws and informal norms shape religion and its social practice; group membership and stereotyping socialise individuals into religious traditions. Many social scientists agree that only the process of modernization opened up a real chance to relate oneself to religion and religious traditions freely. In theory, individual choice prevails over destiny. Yet, one of the most controversial, but seldom addressed question of current empirical research is how religious belonging is best been understood in modern societies. In particular, religious affiliation as a relevant social category is disputed.
Using the preliminary findings of the SMRE, the paper argues two major points: It tries to establish some theoretical clarification to disentangle the different (yet interrelated) concepts of religious affiliation and religious identity. Secondly, it illustrates that religion in Europe still is a highly territorial feature. Thus, in most European countries religious affiliation is a meaningful and relevant feature of today’s social structure. However, contradicting statistical data on religious affiliation (e.g. for France) indicate that the process of individualizing religion made much headway.

Antonius Liedhegener, University of Lucerne, SMRE-Project
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