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Konferencija "Churches and Civil Cociety"
PD Dr. Arnd Bauerkämper (Berliner Kolleg für Vergleichende Geschichte
Europas (BKVGE)); PD Dr. Jürgen Nautz (Department of Economics,
University of Vienna)
The conference will deal with the relationship between the churches and
civil society. Contributions will concentrate on churches as
institutions, not religions or denominations. This does not imply that
the development of religious communities can be studied without any
regard of religious preaching and confessional doctrines. In particular,
the relationship between the churches and civil society has been
strongly influenced by the degree and extent of social inclusion and
exclusion, respectively, in religious practice. The conference will
therefore place the churches in their social and cultural context in
order to reconstruct their relationship to civil society. Combining the
perspectives of history and the social sciences, the conference is
generally based on the premise that the role of the churches vis-à-vis
civil society has varied in the last 250 years. Moreover, the
relationship has been ambivalent throughout this period of time.
The following questions relate to three core issues, which contributions
to the conference should address: the ambivalent consequences of church
self-restraint and social activism for the development of civil
societies (1), the impact of social plurality and secularization on the
churches (2), the repercussions of globalization on the relationship
between the churches and civil society (3).
1. The changing role of the church as a social power is an important
field of investigation. Thus, the collapse of the Weimar Republic and
the first Austrian Republic raise the question of whether the claims to
power on the part of the churches and their demands for a special if not
singular and unique position in society and politics contributed to the
destabilization of these democracies. By contrast, the self-restraint of
the churches seems to have facilitated the evolution of a more open
society in Germany and Austria after the Second World War. Moreover, the
decline of opposing confessional milieus obviously furthered the social
and political modernization of the two countries.
2. The dynamics of increasing social plurality and accelerating
secularization has considerably undermined or at least redefined the
political and moral power of the churches. To what extent have these
processes opened up the churches and propelled them towards a
comprehensive activity in society and politics? The representatives of
the Roman Catholic Church, in particular, had to cope with a widening
gulf between secularization and the conventional claims of a papacy
challenged by liberal and socialist or communist movements. How has the
Catholic Church reacted to these challenges? To what extent have the
attempts of church leaders to redefine the role of Catholocism role been
influenced by reservations among Protestant leaders in the Weimar
Republic, for instance? Which readjustments can be observed after the
Second World War? What does the decline of Christendom in Europe mean?
How have state churches reacted to increasing social mobility and
plurality? To what extent did communist dictatorships revitalize the
3. Has globalization resulted in more openness and a commitment to the
recognition of plurality on the part of the churches? Has this process
increased their social activities reaching far beyond the confines of
their institutional framework? What perspectives with regard to the
relationship between the churches and civil society are discernible? To
what extent will churches continue to accommodate to civil society
structures and values? What impact will the increasing social pluralism
have on the structures and the inner workings of the churches and on the
attitudes as well as the social and political activity of their
representatives? Is a profound democratization of
hierarchically-structured churches to be expected?
Deadline for proposals: 1 November, 2005.
Proposals should include a summary (2 pages) of your paper, curriculum
vitae (1 page) and your contact information.
The organizers will reimburse invited speakers for their traveling
costs. Participants are kindly asked to book inexpensive flights and
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