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Religion and Political Mobilization


What is the role of religion in political mobilization? In this chapter, we examine developments in the literature as it considers the role of religion in political mobilization. Broadly speaking we outline two predominant lines of thinking about religion as a driver of political mobilization, the marketplace and theology. The former strand of thinking, we show, traces its roots as far back as the behavioral revolution and even further still. The second strand, popularized by global conflict events framed in religious terms, focuses on theology and differences between religions as motivating factors in mobilization. This line of thinking has largely been supplanted, while at the same time, it has forced the acknowledgment that while religion is an intervening instrument in mobilization across theology, religious experience likely plays a role in motivating elites and lay believers alike to mobilize. Finally, we outline some emerging areas for further research, including inquiry into the causes of religious preferences, mapping of the mechanisms of mobilization of the devout, clarification of the nexus of democracy and religion, and the increasing availability of data for continued exploration of the role of religion in mobilization.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Birnir, Johanna K. and Henry D. Overos. 2019. "Religion and Political Mobilization." In The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity, ed. Steven Ratuva. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-981-13-0242-8_22-1

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