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Mapping the Civic Engagement of Immigrant Religious Groups

Panel Chair: Martin Baumann | Thursday, August 27, 1:30-3 p.m. | Venue

This panel is based on research conducted by the Religion, Immigration, and Civil Society Project in Chicago, one of seven Gateway Cities projects funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Chicago project analyzed civic engagement patterns of selected immigrant congregations across several religious traditions, focusing on the impact of three moral order variables: the locus of the moral authority of the group (on a continuum from individualist to collectivist), the moral projects of the group (again on a continuum from individualist to collectivist), and the sectarian tensions with other groups and the larger society. The panel will present this new approach for studying immigrant religious groups and patterns of civic engagement. The first paper (sociology of religion) will introduce the approach and the second (history of religions) will apply it to selected immigrant religious groups in America while the last presentation (study of religions) will discuss the applicability to the European context.

Fred Kniss

Moral Order Variables and Civic Engagement: Moral Authority, Moral Projects, and Sectarianism

This presentation will discuss three variables that are important components of any religio-political moral order: locus of moral authority, primary moral project, and degree of sectarianism. Considering a group's location with regard to the first two variables suggests a heuristic "map" identifying key distinctions between immigrant religious groups. Adding a consideration of sectarianism enables the analyst to generate hypotheses about the nature and direction of of an immigrant group‘s potential civic engagement. This conceptual model suggests when and how the content of religious beliefs and practices can be causal factors in civic engagement, and not simply consequences of a group's social location.

Paul D. Numrich

Mapping the Civic Engagement of Selected Immigrant Religious Groups in America

This presentation will examine how the moral order variables (moral authority, moral projects, sectarianism) and other factors help to explain the civic engagement patterns of selected immigrant congregations in Chicago. Special attention will be given to educational programs, especially parochial schools that offer an alternative to the public school system. Historical comparisons of Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Lutheran, and Muslim immigrant groups will be included, leading to the following hypothesis: A substantial parochial school movement will emerge only within those immigrant religious groups for whom tensions with the larger society reach a critical level; for whom the moral project has a primarily collectivist goal; and for those who can muster the requisite material resources.

Martin Baumann

Applying the Civic Engagement Map to Selected Immigrant Religious Groups in Europe

Immigration has led to the establishment of sizeable religious minorities since the 1950s in western European countries. With their longer stay, the immigrants changed the provisional sites of religious worship to larger premises, at times constructing new sacred buildings. In the course of this establishment for long, the second generation grew up, socialised both in the ordinary school system and the cultural-religious traditions of the parents’ country of origin. Will the young people continue their parents’ religions or will they change religious practices, ideas and hierarchies? Also, which forms of civic engagement have emerged? The paper discusses these issues by example of different immigrant groups in Switzerland, making use of the moral order map developed by Kniss and Numrich. The paper aims to both transfer this approach to the European context and employ it to highlight shifts and changes taking place from the first to the second immigrant generation.


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Thematic Outline

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