Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Europeanization, Multiple Modernities and Collective Identities

Religion, nation and ethnicity in an enlarged Europe

PD Dr. Willfried Spohn


My core research within the Constance Center of Excellence consists of the research project: “Europeanization, Multiple Modernities and Collective Identities – Religion, Nation and Ethnicity in an Enlarged Europe.” In following a multiple modernities perspective based on S. Eisenstadt’s comparative-civilizational approach, this project aims at a historical-comparative and sociological-empirical analysis of central dimensions of the conflictive process of European cultural integration in the context of the present eastern and southeastern enlargement of the European Union. The historical-comparative sociological research focuses on the factor of religion and its role in the formation of collective identities (national, ethnic, and European) in eight Western and Eastern European countries (Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Romania, Greece and Turkey) as well as its impacts on the cultural integration of an enlarging Europe. The research project consists of two main research stages. In a first stage, the developmental configurations of religion and collective identities in their national, ethnic, European and inter-civilizational components within the context of state formation, nation-building, religious development and secularization processes are systematically compared in selected countries from a long-term perspective in the 19th and 20th centuries. In a second stage, the transformations of these historical configurations of religion and collective identities in these countries within the context of the EU eastern enlargement since 1989-91 are empirically investigated in an exemplary-explorative manner with respect to political,.cultural and religious elites as these relate in the public sphere to media and societal attitudes within public opinion.

This research in Constance represents, on the one hand, a theoretical-methodological, secondary-analytical and empirical-explorative preparation of a planned international research project (with professors Wolfgang Knöbl and Matthias König, University of Göttingen) with the same topic, submitted in July 2007 to the Volkswagen Research Foundation within the program unit “Diversity and Unity of Europe“; it is supposed to start after a hopefully positive decision in autumn 2008. On the other hand, the research in Constance provides the material basis for the preparation of a book manuscript, “European Multiple Modernities, Religion and Collective Identities,“ which assembles theoretical and historical-sociological comparative studies on European cultural integration and should to be completed during the stay in Constance. Finally, I intend to make some progress in preparing with Johann Arnason (Prague) a joint book manuscript, “Nations, Nationalisms and National Identities – A Comparative-Civilizational Perspective.”