(C2-19) Traditional Religions and Mobile Religiosity as Motors of Socio-Political Movements c. 1900

In times of radical change and crisis, religiosity also and maybe in particular offers models of orientation and justification for socio-political movements, thus obtaining particular social relevance. In the age of the French revolution between 1789 and 1871, and later with the emergence of the political mass market at the end of the 19th century, political alternatives and opposition projects and/or socio-political movements also resorted to religious convictions and a religious use of forms in order to give their concepts additional legitimatory and mobilisational force. This need is, among other things, based on the desire to credit the respective social model with a general ultimate authority and to draw on existing forms of organisation and communication. After 1789, in the context of a society that was still strongly characterised by traditional religiosity, this comes about by a transfer of the religious to the socio-political sphere. Research frequently uses the – not unproblematic – term “political religion” to explain this phenomenon. In this project, following the theses of Mona Ozouf and Thomas Nipperdey, it is rather a “transfer of the sacred” and/or a “wandering religiosity” that is to be referred to. The respective functions of religious elements will be key to the substantiation and communication of particular social models as regards the conceptual classification. In the case of early French socialism as one example of an early social movement in post-revolutionary France, the religious, after a profound break with the traditional power of interpretation, served the need for new harmony and wholeness in the Ancien Régime but also for a social solution of the newly arisen social question for civil order. In a more secularised society at the turn of 19th to the 20th century, non-ecclesiastical religiosity as defined by Nipperdey means that an alternative movement, in a world oriented to the here and now, had the possibility of a chance to draw on familiar emotional and cultural attitudes and to position them against a world perceived as decadent. This culminated in the drafting of an “artificial religion” and served a new reassurance of identity, even if other patterns of thought of the time such as “racial” or “nature mystic” ideas equally too hold in respective movements like the life reform movement.

The project is particularly interested in those forms of religiosity or quasi-religious movements which, as “counter movements”, tended towards being fundamental oppositions and edged into the political or, respectively, developed a corresponding practice. They reacted to alleged “violation” or “loss” of old certainties and sought to restore them on a new level without thereby putting the case for a return to tradition. Instead, they availed themselves of rather new strategies of communication and sacralisation. One thesis of Hermann Lübbe assumes that new forms of sacralisation emerge in compensation of the effects of secularisation. Processes of revolution and secularisation entail a vacuum that has to be filled again. New social movements form that aim at a new harmony or at the restoration of wholeness lost, respectively. The case examples drawn on for comparison are the social movements of early French socialism and the German life reform or youth movement. In both cases, in addition to the socio-cultural concepts or alternative drafts, respectively, the cultural practices of the groups are investigated. In 2013, the head of the project developed respective approaches for an exhibition of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg on the topic of “Aufbruch der Jugend” (Youth Awakening), the ideas and design of which came from him. He also authored respective contributions to the exhibition catalogue. In addition, there is still a cooperation with Dr. Christina Schröer, now of the University of Freiburg. She is meanwhile concerned with the phenomenon of sacralised politics in the French Third Republic between 1870 and 1920.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform G Religion, Politics, and Gender Relations and of coordinated project groups Social forms of religion in ‘second modernity’ and Secularisation and sacralisation of media.