(A7) The Religious Deep Grammar of the Social. The Significance of Religious Communities to the Normative Background of European Welfare States

The central question of the entire project was: do religious traditions inherently have a welfare state efficiency, or do they develop this efficiency only under certain historical conditions and, if so, what are they?

Reconstruction of the most important semantics shaping welfare state developments in Germany (part A)

On the semantic field, the battle about the world of the social could be seen both between the denominations and between religious and secular actors. The welfare state efficiency of religious traditions could be reconstructed from the interplay of political-social conflict situations and traditional notions of value: for example, the bourgeois-Protestant social reform with its ‘state socialist’ option in the empire could easily build on the Lutheran topos of the ‘caring authority’, but it lost its institutional basis when Eccleciasticism came to an end. The search for a “third way” was shifted to the welfare state sceptical ordoliberal project in the following. In the reform of the welfare state, Protestantism normatively connects to the concept of responsibility.

The welfare state efficiency of social Catholicism developed in response to a conflict situation in which social Catholicism had to fend off the hegemony of the Prussian-protestant state on the one hand and the ideology competition by the atheist social democracy and secular liberalism on the other, thus discovering the field of social politics as a new opportunity for self-assertion. In the Weimar Republic, it had both politically operative players (German Centre Party, “Zentrum”; Reich Labour Ministry, “Reichsarbeitsministerium”) and an effective semantics (subsidiarity).

Comparative analysis of religious denominational factors in 13 European countries (part B)

The following theses could be framed with regard to the central question:

  1. Religions do not inherently have a welfare state efficiency.
  2. They will become so only under certain conditions and constellations. These include, among others, internal modernisation processes in response to the structural and social upheavals of the modern age, an important role and function in the building of states and nations, conflict constellations and lines of tension in the relationship of state and church, denominational competition in the field of the welfare sector, intermediary self-organisation, the formation of a welfare constellation incorporating religious parties, and charismatic personalities shaped by religion.
  3. Religions’ internal modernisation processes are a necessary prerequisite here. The more additional conditions are met, the stronger the influence of religions on the welfare state development will become.

Both subprojects were discussed at interdisciplinary workshops: