Sub-Project 4: Actors (only) in Civil Society? Religions and Religious Organizations in Europe as Actors in Civil Society and Politics

Prof. Dr. Antonius Liedhegener

This REGIE sub-project is a political science one. It asks for the empirical quality of religions as collective actors and the potential impact they have on social integration, respectively disintegration in Europe. Research will focus on the impact religious communities have on two different central areas of social integration: On the one hand the involvement (or even non-involvement respectively non-participation) of religious actors in civil society will be analyzed. Of particular interest will be the extent and manner of civic involvement of religious communities and religious organizations as well as the internal and external prerequisites of this involvement. On the other hand it will be investigated in which way religious actors directly influence politics, in particular in conflict-laden political decision making processes. José Casanova confines religion explicitly to the civil society. However, recent empiric studies on politics and religion indicate that such a clear-cut differentiation is misleading. Religions and their organizations are - depending on country and theme - not only more or less part of the civil society but also strive with different grades of intensity for playing an active role in political interest aggregation and political decision making processes. How then can the interrelation between the role religion plays in civil society and the political involvement of religious actors be described? And how does this interrelation affect their self-understanding and their role in civil society and in politics? Starting from a review of statistics on religious and denominational belonging in Europe the outlined questions will be investigated comparatively by the help of qualitative and quantitative methods.