Conference Agenda

RN34_05: Muslims and social cohesion II
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Roberta Ricucci, University of Turin
Location: BS.4.05A
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


"Abogida" - Social-Religious Encounters of Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel

Dolly Eliyahu-Levi1, Michal Ganz-Meishar2

1Levinsky Collge of Education, Israel; 2Levinsky College of Education, Israel

The lecture is based on a qualitative study in which 12 members of the Eritrean community participated in "Abogida". As part of the study, we observed the meetings held at "Abogida" and interviewed 2 principals, 6 teachers and 4 volunteers. The purpose of the study is to examine the perceptions of the leaders of the Eritrean community and the actions that strengthen community cohesion.

The Eritrean minority is pushed into the poorest areas and living in poor conditions, yet they manage to create social-religious meeting places in new areas of belonging. Their description of their situation, as is frequently heard in the media and in other studies, shows that their status as foreigners, temporary and stateless, preserves their cultural distinctiveness even more than other minority groups. They also face a hostile attitude on the part of large parts of Israeli society, with verbal and physical violence, racism and exclusion, and the danger of deportation (Mirsky, 2005).

Members of the Eritrean community in Israel have established an informal religious educational framework in Israel - "Abogida", which aims to preserve among children and adults the religious tradition, ceremonies and prayers, the language of origin and heritage stories. By these activities they strengthen their communal cohesion and collective identity as a minority group distinct from the dominant majority (Obrist, Pfeiffer & Henley, 2010).

"Abogida" is operated daily from afternoon by members of the community, volunteers and teachers in several places in central Israel.

Mirsky, Y. (2005). Israelis - migration stories. Mevaseret Zion: Tulips Publishing.

Obrist, B., Pfeiffer, C., & Henley, R. (2010). Multi-layered social resilience: a new approach in mitigation research. Progress in Development Studies, 10, 283–293.

Religiosity and Support for the Welfare State in 18 European Countries, 2008-2016

Heikki Ervasti

University of Turku, Finland

Do religious people like or dislike the welfare state more than other individuals in Europe? Prior studies report highly contradictory findings on this question. Some studies have found a positive association between religious thinking and support for welfare policies. This is intuitive since all Christian teachings stress pro-social values and the importance of caring for one another. However, proponents of the so-called economics of religion hypothesis suggest that religiosity is associated with a negative view of the welfare state, because religious individuals prefer religious communities and Churches to government institutions as providers of both monetary and psychological support for deprived persons. As the empirical source, this paper employs data from the European Social Survey (ESS) Rounds 4 (2008) and 8 (2016) covering 18 European countries, which allows the use of more detailed indicators of welfare policy than what most prior studies have used. In contrast to the economics of religion hypothesis, a small positive association between religiosity and support for welfare policies is found. As welfare policy attitudes are operationalised by indicators measuring support for egalitarian policies and views about the width of government responsibility in taking care of vulnerable groups, I find either a zero correlation or a small but statistically significant positive effect. Moreover, the results suggest that the effect of religiosity on support for welfare policies differs notably between European countries and that this effect has declined over time. In the most secularised countries, support for the welfare state is practically independent of publics’ religious orientations.

Boundaries of Solidarity

Annette Schnabel

University Duesseldorf, Germany

The presentation focuses on the old and new forms of solidarity. Solidarity connects individual interests and common welfare by solving the four most basic problems of societies: problems of collective goods concern the joint production and preservation of common goods; re-distribution problems address the unjust allocation of resources; social protection problems pertain problems raising from unjust distribution of social risks, and loyalty problems tackle the continuance in a social collective. Religion is one of the most important systems of social norms addressing these problems by prescribing how interrelationships should be organised. These norms comprise iter alia of regimentation about who should be considered and who is to be excluded. During the development of the modern nation-state in Europe, religious norm systems lost integrative powers and were partly be substituted by welfare state policies. It is however, an open and mostly empirical question of how comprehensive this change was. Current discussions about the return of the religious in public debates and in individual stereotyping raise the question of how religion, welfare state policies and solidarity are connected nowadays.

The presentation comprises of a theoretical part expositing of the connection between solidarity, religion and welfare policies and of an according quantitative analysis based on data of the most recent European Value Survey (EVS 2017/18). Aim of the presentation is to shred light on how different forms of solidarity (religious and welfare stated related ones) are intertwined and whom they address and - thereby – exclude.