DFG-research group

Transformation of religion in modernity. Religion and Society in the second half of the 20th Century

The research group studies the sociohistorical background of change of religion as a mode of individual and collective behaviour, their public perception and the changes of the major churches as a Christian religious organization. The relationship of society to the phenomenon of religion is currently ambivalent: on one hand the loss of the importance of religion has has ben considered as m–odern since the 19th century. On the other hand, especially in the last decades, a contrary perception has been created.

The far-reaching changes in the religion are closely intertwined with the change, which concerns the identities of people in industrialized societies in the 20th Century in general. As an essential cause for the change of religion and church groups, the researchers first asked for the change in religious socialization in the postwar period, the changes in the social forms of organized religion and the development of its public representations. The greatest attention was paid first to the immediate postwar period and the "dynamic time" of the 1960s and 1970s of which the religious communities and especially the traditional religious forms of life were recorded with particular intensity.

In 2009 the research group entered a second funding phase. In this phase, special attention was directed to the following dimensions of social change in their connection with the religious transformation process: a) the performance of the religious, b) the importance of change in gender roles, c) the controversy over the politicization of religion and d) lines of development in international comparison (Europe, USA). The research group consisted of: Professor Klaus Tenfelde (Institute for Social Movements), the professors William Damberg (Faculty of Catholic Theology, spokesman of the research group), Traugott Jähnichen (Evangelical Theological Faculty), Volkhard Krech (Center for Religious Studies) and Lucian Hölscher ( Faculty of History) and Frank Bösch (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Institute of History).

The following sub-projects were conducted by the research group at the Institute for Social Movements: