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Communal Religious Practice and Support for Armed Parties: Evidence from Lebanon

Hoffman, M. T. and E. R. Nugent (2015). “Communal Religious Practice and Support for Armed Parties: Evidence from Lebanon.” Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Does religion inevitably promote support for militant politics? Using a new and unique data set compiled from a nationally representative survey in Lebanon, we examine the conditions under which communal religious practice may serve to promote support for or opposition to armed parties. We argue that this relationship, far from being unidirectional and consistent, depends on the interests of the individual sectarian group. For groups engaged in conflict, communal prayer may increase support for arming political parties. For noncombatant groups, however, religion tends to promote opposition to such militarization. Using both observational and experimental evidence, we demonstrate that communal religion increases the salience of group interests through both identity and informational mechanisms. For regular worship attenders, communal religious practice increases the salience of sectarian identity. For nonattenders, informational primes about sectarian interests have the same effect. Among noncombatant groups, this increased salience leads to opposition to armed parties whose presence would threaten the livelihoods and security of those on the sidelines.

Religious diversity in the neoliberal welfare state: Secularity and the ethos of egalitarianism in Sweden

Schenk, S., et al. (2015). “Religious diversity in the neoliberal welfare state: Secularity and the ethos of egalitarianism in Sweden.” International Sociology 30(1): 3-20.
Sociologists interested in religious change and state-church relations have, by and large, ignored how regimes of religious diversity and secularism interact with factors that are seemingly external to religious dynamics such as cultural notions of the welfare state and its neoliberal restructuring. This article fills this lacuna by exploring the social dynamics around secularity and religious diversity as they emerge in contestations around educational reforms in Sweden. The authors show that the language of consumer choice that pervades discourses around public service provision in many late capitalist societies coalesces with human rights driven legal demands for greater religious freedom in justifying religious pluralism in education. These arguments, though, run up against Swedish understandings of egalitarianism as chiefly implemented through unified schools that are widely, but especially in governmental bureaucracies, viewed as a Swedish tradition. Theoretically, the article develops and builds the concept of “Multiple Secularities”.

The fundamentalist mindset: psychological reflections on violence and religion

Strozier, C. B. (2009). “The fundamentalist mindset: psychological reflections on violence and religion.” Psyche-Zeitschrift Fur Psychoanalyse Und Ihre Anwendungen 63(9-10): 925-947.
An analysis of the nature of fundamentalism that considers most of all its relation to violence. Fundamentalism takes many forms historically and in the present, and strong religious beliefs can serve powerful spiritual needs for many people. But it can also stir extremism, violence, terrorism, and genocide. This aspect of fundamentalism must be considered in terms of its underlying reliance on paranoia that in turn connects with the apocalypticism always present in the fundamentalist mindset. Finally, the paper considers the way the presence of nuclear weapons influences the attitudes shaping the fundamentalist mindset.

Searching for the Link between Religion and Violence

Kippenberg, H. G. (2010). “Searching for the Link between Religion and Violence by Means of the Thomas-Theorem.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 22(2-3): 97-115.
Current religious violence is a challenge to students of religions. Do we need categories like “cult,” “fundamentalism,” or “terrorism” in order to distinguish it from allegedly “genuine” and peaceful religion? Do monotheistic religions-with their exclusive claims to truth-necessarily generate intolerance? Sociologists have demonstrated conclusively that every action is based on a definition of the situation. Social actors do not put a norm or a model into practice independent of the immediate context of action. I argue that this holds true for religious actors as well. It is not the personal motive of actors, but the religious meanings they attribute to a conflict of their faith community, which is crucial for understanding religious violence.

Religion and Inequality in America

Keister, L. A. and D. E. Sherkat, Eds. (2014). Religion and Inequality in America. Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification. New York, Cambridge University Press.
Religion is one of the strongest and most persistent correlates of social and economic inequalities. Theoretical progress in the study of stratification and inequality has provided the foundation for asking relevant questions, and modern data and analytic methods enable researchers to test their ideas in ways that eluded their predecessors. A rapidly growing body of research provides strong evidence that religious affiliation and beliefs affect many components of well-being, such as education, income, and wealth. Despite the growing quantity and quality of research connecting religion to inequality, no single volume to date brings together key figures to discuss various components of this process. This volume aims to fill this gap with contributions from top scholars in the fields of religion and sociology. The essays in this volume provide important new details about how and why religion and inequality are related by focusing on new indicators of inequality and well-being, combining and studying mediating factors in new and informative ways, focusing on critical and often understudied groups, and exploring the changing relationship between religion and inequality over time.

Multiple Marginality: How the Disproportionate Assignment of Women and Minorities to Manage Diversity Programs Reinforces and Multiplies Their Marginality

Harris, G. L. A. (2013). “Multiple Marginality: How the Disproportionate Assignment of Women and Minorities to Manage Diversity Programs Reinforces and Multiplies Their Marginality.” Administration & Society 45(7): 775-808.
Achieving diversity in the workplace has become the antidote for what ails many organizations. Specifically for public organizations, although many genuinely pursue diversity to achieve public good, some use diversity for more questionable means. An exploratory study on local governments revealed that women and minorities, relative to White men, are disproportionately assigned to manage diversity programs. Using the research on groups, a theory of multiple marginality was developed to explicate the rationale(s) for these programs – overrepresentation of women and minorities that further marginalizes these already marginalized groups. The adverse effects, the policy implications, and future research are discussed.

Gender Inequality, Income, and Growth: Are Good Times Good for Women?

Dollar, D. and R. Gatti (1999). Gender Inequality, Income, and Growth: Are Good Times Good for Women? Policy Research Report on Gender and Development Washington, DC, The World Bank Development Research Group/Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network. Working Paper Series, No. 1.

Gender differentials in education and health are not an efficient economic choice. Societies that underinvest in women pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and lower income. Furthermore, gender inequality can be explained to a significant extent by religious preference, regional factors, and civil freedom. The relative status of women is poor in the developing world, compared to developed countries. Increases in per capita income lead to improvements in different measures of gender equality, suggesting that there may be market failures hindering investment in girls in developing countries, and that these are typically overcome as development proceeds. Gender inequality in education and health can also be explained to a considerable extent by religious preference, regional factors, and civil freedom. These systematic patterns in gender differentials suggest that low investment in women is not an efficient economic choice, and we can show that gender inequality in education is bad for economic growth. Thus, societies that have a preference for not investing in girls pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income.

Religious Value Priming, Threat, and Political Tolerance

Djupe, P. A. and B. R. Calfano (2012). “Religious Value Priming, Threat, and Political Tolerance.” Political Research Quarterly.
The exploration of the religious underpinnings of intolerance has long focused on the effects of religious behaviors and beliefs, but has ignored a variety of important facets of the religious experience that should bear on tolerance judgments: elite communication, religious values about how the world should be ordered, and social networks in churches. We focus on the communication of religious values and argue specifically that values should affect threat judgments and thus affect tolerance judgments indirectly. We test these assertions using data gathered in a survey experiment and find that priming exclusive religious values augments threat and thus reduces tolerance.

Does poverty cause conflict?

Braithwaite, A., et al. (2014). “Does poverty cause conflict? Isolating the causal origins of the conflict trap.” Conflict Management and Peace Science.
Does poverty cause civil conflict? A considerable literature seeks to answer this question, yet concerns about reverse causality threaten the validity of extant conclusions. To estimate the impact of poverty on conflict and to determine whether the relationship between them is causal, it is necessary to identify a source of exogenous variation in poverty. We do this by introducing a robust instrument for poverty: a time-varying measure of international inequalities. We draw upon existing theories about the structural position of a country in the international economic network’s specifically, the expectation that countries in the core tend to be wealthier and those on the periphery struggle to develop. This instrument is plausibly exogenous and satisfies the exclusion restriction, which suggests that it affects conflict only through its influence upon poverty. Instrumental variables probit regression is employed to demonstrate that the impact of poverty upon conflict appears to be causal.

Post/secular truths: Sojourner Truth and the intersections of gender, race and religion

Smiet, K. (2014). “Post/secular truths: Sojourner Truth and the intersections of gender, race and religion.” European Journal of Women’s Studies.
The postsecular turn within feminist theory refers to a renewed attention to religion within feminist scholarship. However, rather than conceptualizing the postsecular as a new moment within feminist theorizing that breaks with a previous trend of secular feminism, this article stresses that it is important to recognize the long history of coexistence and contestations between religious and secular feminist approaches. In this article, the different reception histories of the story of Sojourner Truth are examined to elucidate and reflect on the complicated (historical) relationship of the religious and the secular within feminist scholarship. Three different types of feminist theoretical engagement with the story of Sojourner Truth are examined and contrasted: the implicitly secular use of the story of Sojourner Truth in black feminist scholarship and theorizing of intersectionality, the explicitly religious interpretations found in the work of feminist and womanist theologians, and the deconstructive reading by Donna Haraway. In discussing and comparing these different engagements with the story of Sojourner Truth, it is stressed that the boundaries between the religious and the secular are perhaps less clear-cut than initially imagined, and that a dialogue between secular and religious feminist approaches is very fruitful. The article closes by examining how the complex intersections of gender, religion and race in the story of Sojourner Truth can be connected to the contemporary theorizing on the racialization of religion within critical race scholarship.