Project - Summary

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    Today, the re-emergence of religion is a frequently discussed phenomenon which is ambivalently evaluated because, from a public perspective, religions can be functional or dysfunctional. The interdisciplinary project EPOS (Europe as a post-secular Society) analyses the social participation of religious organisations in the public sphere and asks which religious and secular values are expressed in and through their social activities. Specifically, EPOS asks the following research questions: Which activities of public benefit and service do religious organisations and groups offer to individuals (members and non-members) and communities? Which models of interaction about these activities do religious organisations and groups use in public discourses? Which values are expressed through these activities? What sort of religious and secular legitimation can be found in their reflections on these activities? As a preliminary to answering these questions EPOS uses the innovative concept of ‘post-secularity’. The concept assumes that religiously motivated activities in the public sphere are based on a reflection about the interplay between religious and secular rules, values and practices.  In this way EPOS goes beyond the theory of secularisation. Rather, the project is predicated on the assumption that religiously motivated social participation is understood best through the ways in which participation is expressed and construed in practice. By grounding EPOS on systematic and comparative empirical research, both quantitative and qualitative, the project will generate evidence which is measurable and verifiable. EPOS will map, analyse and compare the social participation of religious communities in five cities in the participating countries. Thus, EPOS will complement existing research and fill gaps in our understanding by producing new knowledge with the practical purpose of enabling stakeholders and practitioners to create policies and educational concepts expressive of a more tolerant society.