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Session Overview
RN34_08: Identities, values and religious attitudes I
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Christophe Monnot, University of Strasbourg
Location: BS.4.05A
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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A Case of Polish Immigrants in Vienna/Austria: The Role of Religiosity for Feelings of Belonging to the New Society and for Immigrants’ Well-being.

Ina Teresa Wilczewska

University of Vienna, Austria

The paper investigate the role of religiosity for integration and well-being of Polish immigrants living in Vienna. Previous research suggested that religiosity is one of the factors considered to be beneficiary for subjective well-being of people in general and of that of immigrants. The predominant religious confession in Poland and Austria is the same (roman-catholic) and from this point of view it should not constitute a barrier for integration into the mainstream society. However, religiosity has a special relation to patriotism and national identity in the Polish society due to the strong involvement of the Catholic Church in Poland in opposition to the communist regime in the second half of the 20th century. It is therefore hypothesized that greater religiosity of Polish immigrants will preserve the sense of belonging to the country of origin and impede the development of feelings of belonging to the new society which furthermore can diminish immigrants’ well-being. 290 first generation Polish immigrants participated in the study. Structural equation models revealed that religiosity has an indirect negative effect on the sense of belonging to Vienna/Austria by negatively affecting the amount of contact with the autochthonous population in the free time. Feelings of belonging to Vienna are furthermore directly positively related to the satisfaction with life. The results also showed a direct positive effect of religiosity on the feelings of belonging to Poland. It is concluded that religiosity, when connoted historically with national identity and preservation of tradition, can significantly affect the acculturation process of immigrants. Moreover, the positive relation between religiosity and well-being can be reversed in this specific context.

“We Are A Family”: Boundary-making Behavior Of Muslim Converts In Switzerland

Amir Sheikhzadegan

University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Religious conversion is a specific form of “spiritual transformation” (Paloutzian 2005) and implicates, as such, a transformation of identity (Travisano 1970; Paloutzian 2005; Gooren 2010). It therefore impacts the boundary-making behavior of the convert (Barth 1969; Dahinden & Zittoun 2013; Sheikhzadegan 2017; Wimmer 2008).

Building upon this argumentation, the study analyzes the boundary-making behavior of Muslim converts in Switzerland. As for the methodology, a combination of observant participation, narrative interviews - with a focus on "reconstruction of narrative identity" (Lucius-Hoene and Deppermann 2004) - and qualitative network analysis are applied.

Still a work-in-progress, the findings of the study so far show the contours of two distinct types of Muslim converts. While the "multiculturalists" – in the tradition of Kukathas (2003) – strive for an internal autonomy of the community of practicing Muslims, the "integrationists" encourage their co-believers to concentrate on their citizenship duties (Nollert & Sheikhzadegan 2016; see also Bartoscewiz 2014).

As for the boundary-making behavior, both groups demarcate against each other accusing the other group of advocating the “wrong” approach to Islam by either being too rigid or too permissive, depending on the perspective. Moreover, the integrationists fight for a bridging between Muslims and non-Muslims, while the multiculturalists strive for a bonding of practicing Muslims and a community formation (Vroon 2014).

Besides these differences, the two groups share a demarcation against the far-right, assimilationist forces, whom they accuse of being intolerant and islamophobic, and the ethnic/cultural Muslims (Özyürek 2015), who in their eyes “contaminate” Islam with superstition and reactionary cultural practices (Galonnier 2018).

Once a Lutheran, Always a Lutheran? Religion and Civic Life in the Age of the “Nones”

Chaeyoon Lim1, Dingeman Wiertz2

1University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States of America; 2University College London

Religiosity has long been linked to various prosocial attitudes and behaviors. In particular, many studies have observed a strong connection between religious involvement and civic participation. Religious involvement, however, has been in decline in most Western nations. Even in the US – traditionally considered an exception to this trend – recent studies show that religiosity is in decline.

This study explores the civic consequences of declining religiosity in the UK and the US. More specifically, we ask what happens to civic participation when people who grew up religiously leave organized religion later in their life. Given the well-established link between religiosity and civic participation, one may expect that people become less civically involved as they leave religion. However, such causal symmetry cannot be taken for granted. Civic skills and values instilled by religion may be stickier than religiosity itself and people may hang on to civic norms they grew up with even after they turn their back on organized religion. This may particularly apply if they remain embedded in social networks where civic norms and values rooted in religion are still prevalent. Consequently, someone who is no longer a Lutheran religiously may still be a Lutheran culturally and civically.

We investigate such patterns of civic and cultural persistence using survey data from the UK and the US, including the British Household Panel Survey, Understanding Society, and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Our findings will illuminate the role of religion in civic and public life in the age of the “Nones.”

Religion As An Explanatory Variable? Religion, National Identity, And Politics

Sinisa Zrinscak

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, Croatia

Crucial role of religion in maintaining the specific ethnic identity has become the common place in explaining the social role of religion in Central and Eastern European countries. However, this was mainly not explained further an in particular in terms of how this social role depends on different levels of religiosity and on specific majority-minority compositions in various countries. Also, my recent analysis based on the European Value Survey data gathered in Croatia revealed that the link between different religious indicators and of the national proud has been strengthening only in recent years, which is line with other analyses arguing that the religiously backed nationalism has been, in the case of the former Yugoslavia, mainly a post-war phenomenon, and not the main cause of the breakdown of Yugoslavia. In light of these observations and emerging debates of how religion represents an important cultural and emotional resource for rising of populism throughout Europe, the aim of the paper is to rethink the religion-ethnicity-politics link. Based on the literature review the paper argues that religion is just one among social variables in explaining the politics dynamics and that its role in supporting nationalism and rising distance toward minority groups depends very much on who is perceived as “Others”, and how “Others” are defined. Thus, the role of religion varies whether, e.g., “Others” are “liberal and decadent Westerns”, or “militant Muslims”, or “seculars”, or “dangerous sects“. In the end, the paper discusses briefly some theoretical and empirical implications.

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