Problem-context of the Study
The Western World in its modern form is philosophically and religiously pluralist. Religion is present in this Western World – also in a pluralist form. Plurality appears in the existence of various different denominations within a religion as well as outside it. Moreover, it appears in numerous individual religions, religions which, nowadays, can hardly still be understood as reflecting an institutionalised religious community in relation to ritual practice, doctrine etc. Thus, we are dealing with a differentiation that firstly leads to assigning religion in a society with its own sector, and that secondly indicates a difference between the religious institutions and individual religiousness. The first finding could lead to the uncoupling of religiousness from the remaining questions concerning the conduct of one’s life. The second finding raises the question, to what extent is individual religiousness connected with religious institutions. It is to be examined, whether the suggested processes of distinction hold true, and whether in a final analysis ‘differentiation’ leads to ‘separation’, or indeed whether semantic and pragmatic contexts are effective to any further extent.
Questions raised in the Project
1. What contours do adolescents’ outlooks on life have in the micro-, meso- and macro-areas in Germany and comparatively internationally? The three distinct levels allow for a survey of personal orientation in life, of attitudes towards societal institutions, and of socio-politics with particular reference to European and Western development.
2. What contours does adolescents’ religiousness have in the micro-, meso- and macro-areas in Germany and comparatively internationally? The three distinct levels allow for a survey of individual religious orientation and practice, of attitudes towards religious institutions, and of perceptions of religion in a societal context.
3. The third question focuses on the association between outlooks on life and religiousness and on the context as a whole. Are there connections between the general and the religious outlook on life as well as between individual religiousness and the religious institutions (churches)? Are there particular types of outlooks on life and particular types of religiousness in themselves as well as in combination? Are there differences specific to countries between Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Europe?
Aims of the Project
1. Theologically: religious pedagogics focuses (as in Practical Theology on the whole) on the investigation of experienced religious practice and brings its findings into the theological discourse. Experienced religiousness can be viewed alongside traditional sources as a locus theologicus. This locus is not merely the field to which theology is applied, but rather from out of this field traditional theological conceptual constructs and ideas are critically scrutinized.
2. Pedagogically: religious pedagogics is increasingly attempting to take the addressees of religious education-processes seriously as subjects of religious learning. Out of this the need for research work arises, of a kind which facilitates understanding of these subjects who each have their own religious world view, in order to pick up on the thread of these (world views) in the education process.
3. Societal: religion is a dimension of reality. To make ‘experienced religion’ accessible means to make a general contribution to the understanding of the world.
The studyis, at core, based on questions about adolescents’ outlooks on life and about their religiousness. The explorative question is: what relationship is there between the two in the thought and experience of adolescents? Large sociological studies not infrequently reduce the question of religiousness to narrow parameters such as membership of a church, prayer, service attendance, belief in God, and life after death. This approach has its justification in sociologically-motivated studies, but it is deficient in a theological/religious-educational context. This shortcoming has been highlighted numerous times on the part of Protestant and Catholic religious educationalists. In order to remedy this deficit, the ambit of religiousness has been considerably broadened in this study. Outlooks on life are not just to be considered in terms of themselves, rather they are to be understood in the context of socio-demographic characteristics, personality-related characteristics, as well as conditions in terms of socialization.