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Religion in Nordic Politics as a Means to Societal Cohesion: An Empirical Study on Party Platforms and Parliamentary Debates 1988–2012
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre. (Impact of Religion)
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this study, I address the relationship between religion and politics in the Nordic countries, 1988–2012, against a background of increasing religious diversity alongside more or less continuous relationships between church and state. My aim is to analyse possible changes in the way religion is referred to by Nordic parliamentary parties, and in the way these parties use religion as a means to societal cohesion. I use theories on religious change and on the motives for using religion in politics to discuss a possible re-emergence of religion in politics, with the help of concepts such as functional differentiation, glocalisation and politicisation. I apply different forms of content analysis in a mixed-methods approach, using both substantial and functional definitions of religion. The thesis is based on four articles published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed international journals: First, a study on religion in Nordic party platforms from around 1988, 1998 and 2008. Second, a study on religion in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish parliamentary debates, 1988/89, 1998/99 and 2008/09. Third, a study on the role of the majority churches in the final Nordic parliamentary debates on same-sex unions 1989–2012. Fourth, a study on Danish and Norwegian parliamentary debates on the wearing of veils among judges and policewomen in 2009. The major findings are that the references to religious diversity in party platforms and parliamentary debates have increased, which leads to a more complex understanding of the religious cleavage in politics, and that right-wing populist parties in particular politicise religion to achieve political influence. Furthermore, human rights have been increasingly used to address religious diversity as a political issue. I interpret these findings as continuous use of religion for societal cohesion in Nordic politics, through a model of different forms of politicisation using the concepts civil religion, human rights and nationalism. The thesis contributes to a better understanding of the religious cleavage, politicisation of religion, the impact of globalisation on the political debate about religion and changes as well as continuity regarding the use of religion in Nordic politics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. , 143 p.
Series
Studies in Religion and Society, ISSN 1654-630X ; 13
Keyword [en]
Religion, politics, Nordic, Scandinavia, church, diversity, secularisation, globalisation, politicisation, cleavage, civil religion, human rights, nationalism, right-wing populist, privatised religion, content analysis, mixed methods
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Sociology of Religion
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-241250ISBN: 978-91-554-9146-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-241250DiVA: diva2:779895
Public defence
2015-03-06, Ihresalen, Campus Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 14:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
NORELImpact of Religion
Funder
Nordic Council of Ministers
Note

Cover photography: Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (chairman of The Moderate Party) debates with Member of Parliament Jimmie Åkesson (chairman of The Sweden Democrats) in the Swedish parliament Riksdagen on 19 January 2011. Photographer: Melker Dahlstrand/Riksdagsförvaltningen.

Available from: 2015-02-13 Created: 2015-01-09 Last updated: 2015-07-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Religion in Nordic Party Platforms 1988-2008
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Religion in Nordic Party Platforms 1988-2008
2013 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, ISSN 0809-7291, E-ISSN 1890-7008, Vol. 26, no 2, 121-139 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, I will analyse how Nordic political parties refer to religion in party platforms from the late 1980s until 2008 in light of increased religious diversity and changed relations between church and state in the Nordic countries. Four questions are asked: (1) Does the number of issue-areas related to religion increase or decrease over time in the party platforms? (2) Does the connection between religion and other political issues, such as national identity, foreign policy, and human rights, change during this period? (3) How do the political parties view the positions of the majority churches and do they change over time? (4) What differences can be observed between the political parties in their approach to religion? The data consist of 136 party platforms from all the five Nordic countries in 1988, 1998, and 2008. The analysis shows that issues-areas related to religion increase in Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden, but decrease slightly in Norway. Religion is often mentioned in connection to religious diversity and globalization. The position of the majority churches in party platforms is fairly strong over time, although to decreasing degree, particularly in Sweden and Norway. Finally, the traditional religious cleavage (Lipset and Rokkan 1967) is still evident in Nordic politics, although the right-wing populist parties complicates this picture as they tend to use religion to defend national values against consequences of religious diversity.  

Keyword
Religion, political parties, Nordic countries, Scandinavia, party platforms
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Sociology of Religion
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-211200 (URN)
Projects
Impact of ReligionNOREL
Available from: 2013-11-21 Created: 2013-11-21 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Politicisation of Religion in Scandinavian Parliamentary Debates 1988–2009
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Politicisation of Religion in Scandinavian Parliamentary Debates 1988–2009
2014 (English)In: Politics, Religion & Ideology, ISSN 2156-7689, E-ISSN 2156-7697, Vol. 15, no 4, 565-582 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to study possible changes in the politicisation of religion in Scandinavia over time in records from parliamentary debates in Denmark, Norway and Sweden 1988–1989, 1998–1999 and 2008–2009. The study has shown that religion has been more politicised in terms of the number of speeches and debates with references to religion and the degree of problematisation of religion in Denmark and Norway. That is particularly the case with right-wing populist parties in opposition to Islam that possibly use it as a way of profiling in political competition. In contrast, Sweden has not seen a similar development, which may be due to the fact that it did not have a right-wing populist party in its parliament until 2010. The empirical findings of this study are discussed in relation to theories on globalisation and the boundary disputes that may arise as a consequence of globalisation, not least when religion, and particularly Islam, has been perceived to challenge societal core values.

Keyword
Religion, politics, politicisation, Scandinavia, parliament, right-wing populist, globalization
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Sociology of Religion
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-240744 (URN)10.1080/21567689.2014.965693 (DOI)
Projects
NORELImpact of Religion
Funder
Nordic Council of Ministers
Available from: 2015-01-08 Created: 2015-01-08 Last updated: 2017-12-05
3. Renegotiating the Role of Majority Churches in Nordic Parliamentary Debates on Same-Sex Unions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Renegotiating the Role of Majority Churches in Nordic Parliamentary Debates on Same-Sex Unions
2016 (English)In: Journal of Church and State, ISSN 0021-969X, E-ISSN 2040-4867, Vol. 58, no 1, 80-97 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, a case study is used to analyse how the position of the majority churches is expressed in Nordic parliamentary debates on same-sex unions and to discuss the results in relation to theories on functional differentiation contextualised through socio-cultural factors. In the study, the degree of references to the majority churches in the debates is analysed and to what degree Members of Parliament support the role of the majority churches as performers of legally binding weddings. It is also analysed to what degree the majority churches directly and indirectly are used as authorities to strengthen the claims for or against same-sex unions. In the conclusion, these debates are understood as a re-negotiation of the role of the majority churches due to their ability to continuously function through performance and as public utilities. Meanwhile, socio-cultural factors are also used to explain differences in how the role of the majority churches is referred to in the parliamentary debates on same-sex unions in the different countries. 

Keyword
church, state, Nordic, Scandinavian, same-sex union, homosexuality, politics, parliament
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Sociology of Religion
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-240750 (URN)10.1093/jcs/csu103 (DOI)000397127800004 ()
Projects
NORELImpact of Religion
Funder
Nordic Council of Ministers
Available from: 2015-01-08 Created: 2015-01-08 Last updated: 2017-06-30Bibliographically approved
4. Values and Veils in Danish and Norwegian Parliamentary Debates and the Absence of Gender
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Values and Veils in Danish and Norwegian Parliamentary Debates and the Absence of Gender
2015 (English)In: Religion and Gender, ISSN 1878-5417, E-ISSN 1878-5417, Vol. 5, no 2, 135-149 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This is a case study on the kinds of values that were invoked in the parliamentary debates in 2009 on whether or not Danish judges and Norwegian policewomen should be allowed to wear veils for religious reasons in their line of duty. The case marks a shift and the limits of the until-then fairly liberal religious accommodation by the two states. Despite the high esteem of gender equality in Denmark and Norway, gender values are less referred to in these debates and the most common values are instead secularism, secular progress and neutrality or, more explicitly, the impartiality and credibility of the state. The findings are understood as a sign of the adaptive character of symbolic politics to focus on different values depending on the issue, as the underlying purpose is to distinguish between the majority population and (religious) minorities through the use of a narrative of secular progress. A secularism based on such narrative is used to express a clash between values associated with secularity, freedom and modernity and religion, oppression and tradition, here symbolised by the wearing of veils.

Keyword
Gender, Scandinavia, secularism, values, veil
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Sociology of Religion
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-241249 (URN)doi.org/10.18352/rg.10121 (DOI)
Projects
Impact of religion
Available from: 2015-01-09 Created: 2015-01-09 Last updated: 2017-12-05

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