The transmission of religion under altered conditions in Europe, scenarios and political impact

Internationale Fachtagung

This workshop wants (a) to present first findings on the transmission of religion towards minority youth, based upon an empirical case study in Austria and (b) to discuss methodological and theoretical frameworks for future research on this topic.

In the Academic Study of Religion youth-research is still rare (Arweck/Shipley 2019, Collins-Mayo/Dandelion 2010). This is even more the case with regards to 'minoritized youth’ - in so far empirical work in Europe mostly recruits interview partners from bourgeois middle class and with a Christian background. The concept of ‘transmission’ - as an umbrella term for processes of socialization, departure from tradition, learning theory and religious education - is vital to analyze contemporary directions of religious*secular change.

(1) The Austrian case study: The Austrian case study focuses on minoratized youth (14-18 years) – starting from a heuristic concept of ‘minorization’ as a multi-dimensional phenomenon encompassing inter alia rural living conditions and different religious*secular backgrounds. The research has begun in summer 2020. Data collection will be conducted in spring and summer 2021 (in rural areas of three Austrian federal states with Catholic, Protestant, Alevi, Sunni Muslim, and Secular youth groups). These youth groups regularly meet for leisure activities.
Using the empirical tool of so-called ‘group discussions’ – frequently applied within the context of the documentary methods-approach (Bohnsack 2014) – the young adolescents will at first be asked to recall their common practices. In a second segment of the group discussions, explicit questioning will focus on potential modes of minorization, e.g. through rural location, social marginalization, and religion. First analyses have made it very clear that such an approach is well equipped to get at shared horizons and interpretive schemes of everyday life worlds. The projects will work towards a sample of 15 transcripts. For our workshop, (translations of) sequences from the group-discussions will be presented and analyzed in greater detail to make implicit frames for the construction of social realities explicit and to form the basis for comparison as well as the construction of types.

(2) Proposed Discussions: As far as the workshop in Greifswald is concerned, we want to focus on the following questions: (1) What are qualitative approaches to understand the transmission of world views to young people? (2) How can our data be related to theories of secularization, late modern subjectivities, and the role of religious organizations today? (3) Where do we see avenues for future research?
Here, a solid theoretical framing of transmission derives from the project of Benjamin Lee and Kim Knott (undertaken by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats on Ideological Transmission (CREST) at Lancaster University). In 2017 and 2018 Lee and Knott compiled three reports with a focus on ideological transmission of religion that provide highly significant contributions to better understand the radicalization of religious biographies and institutions. In a 2020-article they further elaborated on cognitive, social, practical, spatial and embodied dimensions of transmission to develop a complex and dense concept of transmission.
Within this general framework, it might be interesting to have a look at the building block-approach to comparative analysis of world view construction with a background in cognitive psychology and the cognitive study of religion. In a 2016-article, Ann Taves and Egil Asprem have begun to focus on basic concepts for (religious) experiences - highly relying on event cognition theory. They argue that complex cultural concepts (such as religion, magic, or revelation) are deferred from their parts which are basic concepts of mental representation and action. Relying on theories of event models and event schemes the connection of prior experiences, working models of original event interpretation, memorized events and narrated events are assumed.

Programme (tentative):
Thursday, 28.10. evening
7 pm: public keynote Anne Koch, Karsten Lehmann:
The Transmission of Religion during Adolescence. Preliminary Results from an Empirical Study in Austria, life stream

Friday, 29.10.
9:00 - 12:00 am: Findings from the Austrian Case Study and discussion from the point of view of other youth research and research on transmission of religion
– option for hybrid participation via Zoom –
Lunch break

1:30 - 3:00 pm: discussion of theoretical and methodological frameworks for future research
Coffee break

3:30 - 5:00 pm: discussion of theoretical and methodological frameworks for future research
Optional 5:00 - 7:00 pm: walk along the seaside
7:00 pm: dinner

Contacts and convenors:
Anne Koch, anne.kochph-linzat
Karsten Lehmann, karsten.lehmannkphvie.acat

Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald
Dennis Gelinek M.A.
17487 Greifswald 
Telefon +49 3834 420 5015
Fax +49 3834 420 5005


  • Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald
    Martin-Luther-Straße 14
    17489 Greifswald

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