Research program

Table of contents:

Sociology of Religion

Media as an Arena for Religious and Cultural Change

The relationship between modernization and secularization has been a core issue in Sociology of Religion. Ongoing societal changes and increasing religious and cultural diversity call for a more nuanced understanding of religious change. The aim of this program is to analyze the role of the media in the construction of religious values and identities. The program focuses on the dynamic between media texts and how those texts are used by different groups in society. Research questions explored are: How is religion represented, and through which topics, actors and arguments? How is the relationship between religion, culture and identity constructed? How do various media formats and genres affect this process? How does the presentation of religion in the media shape individuals’ constructions of meaning and identity? Methods used are quantitative content analysis, discourse analysis of media texts, and interviews with media producers and consumers.

Research is carried out through the project “The Resurgence of Religion?! A Study of Religion and Modernity in Sweden with the Daily Press as a Case Study.” By analyzing editorials written between 1975-2010, this project analyzed uses of religion in political discussions in the Swedish press (ended in 2015). A study of how Swedish public service media thematize conflicts concerning the presence of Islam in Swedish society is undertaken as part of the scandinavian project ”Engaging with Conflicts in Mediatized Religious Environments” (CoMReL) (Lövheim). Two doctoral projects are located within this program. The first project studies negotiations of religion and gender among Orthodox Jewish Transsexuals in North America and Israel (Oriol Poveda). The second studies how North American women with a non-religious or atheist life-stance perform identity through YouTube (Evelina Lundmark). A doctoral project on religion, gender and wellbeing in Swedish women’s magazines was completed in 2015 (Anneli Winell). The aforementioned projects are carried out within the interdisciplinary research program “The Impact of Religion: Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy.”

Contact Person: Professor Mia Lövheim

Religion and Values in Young People’s Everyday Lives

This program approaches religious and social change from the perspective of young people in dialogue with Youth Studies. By emphasizing the role of religion in young people’s everyday lives, we analyze socialization, participation and meaning making in relation to institutions such as the family, peer groups, religious groups and the school system. We also consider the effects of globalization and interactive media on these socialization processes.

The main research question is: Under what circumstances does religion function as a resource, or as a limitation, for young people’s health, literacy and participation in society? This question is explored in relation to various social arenas relevant for young people’s lives: the home, the school, civil society and mass media. The methods used include quantitative surveys, interviews, field observations and document analysis.

This research is carried out in collaboration with the project “Religion and Human Rights,” which investigates attitudes toward human rights among youth from different religious traditions in over twenty-five countries. The project “Teaching Religion in Late-Modern Sweden” (TRILS) studies how teachers of Religious Education (RE) in state schools deal with tensions inherent in the academic subject of RE in contemporary Sweden. A doctoral project within this study focus on the use of media in RE-education (Maximilian Broberg). Another project explores the relation between young people’s experiences of religion and understandings of religion circulated through media and within Religious Education (Anna Wrammert). The project “Youth and Religion” surveys the presence and meaning of religion in everyday life among young Swedes (Maria Klingenberg). The last mentioned project is linked to a research network that includes researchers across several disciplines in the study of religion, such as Sociology of Religion, Psychology of Religion, Education, Political Science and Ethnology. All these projects are part of the interdisciplinary program on “The Impact of Religion.”

Contact Person: Associate Professor Anders Sjöborg

Religious Actors in civil society

The increasing religious and cultural diversity in modern society suggests that research in the Sociology of Religion must broaden its scope from studying solely Christian churches and denominations to include other religions, such as Islam and Judaism, as well as new avenues for research. The overarching aim of this program is to analyze how religious organizations interact with and impact contemporary society at a time when those organizations increasingly function as organizations within civil society. At a macro level, the organizations’ role as guardians of traditions and overarching societal values of solidarity and care is a significant area of interest. At an intermediate level, the program focuses on relationships between faith-based organizations, on the one hand, and the state, other organizations and individuals, on the other hand. At a micro level, these organizations are studied from the perspective of the individual by exploring changing patterns of religious socialization and consumption.       

Research is currently being carried out through two projects. The first focuses on religious agents in the public sphere as providers of welfare in Tanzania (Josephine Sundqvist). The second project explores the complex ways in which relations between Islam and feminism(s) become articulated, manifested and interpreted among women who identify as Muslim feminists in Sweden and the Öresund-region (Vanja Mosbach). Finally, projects are being initiated on religious groups’ contractual relationships with public authorities and on the work of faith-based organizations with marginalized young people. These projects are all carried out within the research program “The Impact of Religion: Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy.”

Contact Person: Postdoctoral Researcher Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon

Beside these programs two doctoral projects on religion and politics have been carried out during the period: A study of the use of religion within party platforms and parliamentary debates within the Nordic countries between the years 1988, 1998 och 2008 (Jonas Lindberg, completed in 2015). This project was part of the Nordic comparative project ”The role of religion in the public sphere” (NOREL). An ongoing study focus on media events involving politicians with a religious profile in Sweden (Linnea Jensdotter).