Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Cultural Dynamics of Religion

Religion is a universal phenomenon which has a special interrelationship with culture. On the one hand, its concrete institutional formation is based upon cultural presuppositions; on the other hand, religion contributes greatly as an influential generator of meaning to guaranteeing stability and flexibility in frameworks of social order.

In this research area, Egyptologists, historians, literary scholars and sociologists work together in order to examine the significance of religion in processes of integration and disintegration within a broad historical spectrum, from the advanced civilizations of antiquity to the present day.

The cultural dimension of integration and disintegration cannot be considered separately from the religious. In numerous respects, it is a factor in the formation of social order. Starting with its own institutionalization, religion has made an evolutionary contribution in all historically known social formations to the institutional development of social structures.

It is in this way significantly involved in shaping the institutional and material conditions under which societies produce the cultural resources of integration or disintegration. In this process of systemic reinforcement, religion is itself dependent upon cultural resources.

In addition, inasmuch as it is institutionalized and (often) organized as a self-observing interpretation of the world, religion in most societies has a decisive influence on what culture is made up of in the first place.

For this reason, Durkheim generally equated religion with human sociability. At the same time, it is not just because of events of very recent past that religion is identifiable as a source of violence—a source of the fundamentalist reduction of patterns of meaning and as a driving factor in both social and state conflicts.