(C2-8) New Social Movements and Religious Social Forms after Modernity: A Comparison of Germany and North America

The 1960s are considered the preliminary climax of basic social changes, from which the social forms of the religious were not exempted either, as the influential thesis of the “religious crisis of the 1960s” (H. McLeod) demonstrated. In history and social science, there is a whole range of concepts that are competing in order to get to the heart of the transformation processes that have changed the Western European and North American societies since the 1960s. To be mentioned here are, among others, decentralisation and pluralisation, individualisation or de-normatising.

On the one hand, social forms of the religious are a result of these processes. On the other hand, the latter were promoted by these social forms. It can be observed that the institutional fabric of the churches was changing (secularisation) and that church-internal paradigm shifts were also taking place with which the changing general conditions were to be countered. This situation lends itself to a comparison of Western European countries with the U.S.A. for several reasons.

The project pursues the following central questions:

  • In what social forms did religious experience and acting develop in the two large denominations?
  • Which transformational processes can be traced with regard to the ways of collective religious forging of identity?
  • In what way does the relation of the social forms of the religious with the social, historical and cultural framework conditions in which it unfolds express itself?
  • How, therefore, do the interdependencies between the social form of the religious and the respective societies change?
  • Where and how do conflicts, cooperation and competition between public and religious institutions and between religious and social movements occur?
  • The project members will pursue different approaches, and they will also, in each case, deal with one of the two large denominations.