EXC 2060 B3-30 – Threat Perceptions, Feelings of Belonging, Acceptance of Democratic Rule: A New Religiously Shaded Line of Conflict in Europe?
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Social conflicts in European societies are being increasingly played out in religious terms. Feelings of threat are directed towards Islam; migrants and ethnic foreign groups are defined by their religious affiliation; marginalized groups take up the defence of the Christian Occident. The project presented here will carry out a comparative investigation of the connection between threat perception, collective self-understanding, and acceptance of democracy in selected European countries. It expects correlations among these three variables to be influenced by economic, legal, political, but also religious factors. Hence, the project is particularly interested in exploring the interplay of these factors and identifying different, country-specific patterns of correlations. The empirical basis of the project is an international representative survey in selected European countries. The results of the survey will be used by three closely related subprojects that pursue distinct research questions. The aim of subproject 1 (Mitja Back, Gerald Echterhoff) is to capture widespread feelings of the threat posed by external groups and to identify factors causing such feelings. Subproject 2 (Olaf Müller, Detlef Pollack) deals with ideas and feelings of collective and political belonging. Finally, subproject 3 (Bernd Schlipphak) analyses how feelings of threat and ideas of belonging influence attitudes towards democratic rule. At the individual level, the project will draw on attitudinal variables regarding relative deprivation, equal opportunity, distributive justice, freedom and equality, religiosity, national pride, social trust, as well as on personality traits and socio-structural characteristics. However, the characteristics and patterns of correlations between threat perception, collective self-understanding and political attitudes do not only vary individually but also collectively, and vary in European countries depending on the degree of religious diversity as well as on dominant denomination, democratic performance and level of prosperity. In order to further include the analysis of perceptions among migrants in the study, the project will be carried out in cooperation with the Berlin Social Science Centre (Ruud Koopmans).