Religiosity in East and West

Conceptual and Methodological Challenges

The chair of the sociology of religion at University Münster and the chair of practical theology at University Siegen are organizing the conference “Religiosity in east and West – Conceptual and Methodological Challenges” in Münster, Germany, on 25-27th June 2019. The conference results from collaboration between Dr. Sarah Demmrich (psychologist of religion, Post-Doc at the chair of sociology of religion) and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Riegel (Professor for practical theology and religious education).

Call for Papers

We welcome contributions with a scope on the psychology of religion, the sociology of religion as well as on theology. Additionally, we would be glad to attract scholars from different cultural backgrounds. Please submit a paper abstract (250 – 300 words) to Sarah Demmrich by January 15, 2019.

Conference description

The concept of religiosity as a highly individual aspect of religion and its research was shaped in Protestant circles in the Western context (Belzen, 2015). It inspired a huge body of research and further developments in the psychology of religion, the sociology of religion, and theology. In non-Western contexts, however, this concept has been proven only partially effective for the description and measuring of religiosity. This observation raises the question if research on religiosity is a science of Western Christianity (Cutting & Walsh 2008; Hill & Hood, 1999). Even within the Western context the present concepts and instruments are only partially applicable to measure religiosity in highly religious individuals adequately. For example, an orthodox belief, which is practiced in some Protestant Free Churches, often does not contradict with life in a modern society (Vermeer & Scheepers, 2017). This observation raises the question if the contemporary conceptualizations and operationalization of religiosity are too strongly oriented towards the ideal of an enlightened and individualized belief.

In light of these two observations, the Münster conference discusses the established concepts of religiosity and aims to expand them by alternative concepts where appropriate. For example, genuine approaches from non-Western cultures can add to the contemporary discourse of religiosity research (e.g., concepts of Muslim or Hindu religiosity). Similarly, a new understanding of highly religious milieus, which are – against the secularization theory – growing in modern societies, can stimulate a new concept of religiosity beyond individualized belief (e.g., Fresh Expressions, Mega Churches).

Besides conceptualizing non-individualized religiosity, another challenge is the application of measures that grew out of the classic concepts of religiosity to the non-Christian and/or non-Western context (Dover, Miner, & Dowso, 2007; Ghorbani, Watson, Sarmast, & Chen, 2018). However, first approaches of religion- and culture-sensitive measures for different contexts have been developed during the last years (e.g., Abu-Raiya & Pargament, 2011; Ağılkaya-Şahin, 2015; Kamble, Watson, Marigoudar, & Chen, 2014; Loewenthal & Solaim, 2016; Ok, 2016). These do not only allow a more differentiated description of such religiosities, but also facilitate a valid research on its correlates. However, there has been only a few of such alternative measures of non-individualized religiosity until today and more instruments of this kind are needed which proof appropriate to various cultural contexts.

Visit the conference webpage to learn more.