Civic Engagement of immigrant religious communities in Switzerland and Austria: a comparative analysis of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim associations in Zurich and Vienna

The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (3 years).

Start of the Project: July 2012

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Martin Baumann

Researchers: Veronika Rückamp, M.A.; Katharina Limacher, M.A.


Religious communities in diaspora situations offer more than being places of worship and prayer for their members but fulfil a variety of functions: Among others, they provide various forms of counselling and education, meeting places for youth, or they engage in interreligious dialogue.

This project deals with two main questions: Firstly, we will analyse which welfare activities are brought forth in religious immigrant communities. We also we want to find out which factors on the societal level influence this engagement.

Our key question asks to what extent immigrant communities of Hindus and Muslims in Zurich (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria) practise different kinds of social and welfare activities and what they contribute to the formation of a religious community in places of religious and social gathering such as temples and mosques. The comparative perspective will help to explore how religious beliefs in different traditions influence meanings of belonging and forms of voluntary engagement. This will also provide insight into the ways in which activities are fostered or hampered by societal circumstances, such as incorporation regimes and public discourse about foreigners.

We will be working with means of qualitative research. The project will be run by two doctoral students for three years. While one project focuses on mosque associations, the other deals with Hindu temple associations.