Politics or Culture? Path Dependency and Religious Diversity in Democratic Development
This paper addresses the issue of policy convergence in the area of integration policies from the angle of cultural path dependencies. It raises the question to what extent and how religion has been a factor in shaping integration policies in Western democracies, both with regard to the religious legacies of the host countries and the (predominantly Muslim) religion of immigrant groups. As a starting point, the paper addresses the observation of a growing complexity and
cultural diversity of Western democracies in the face of new immigration waves and their consequences for the politics of immigration and multiculturalism from the 1990s to the present. It then raises the issue to what extent the current power configurations between politics and religion and more specifically the (democratic) state and churches/religious communities is shifting under the pressure of growing non-Christian minorities. For this, the paper configures the legacies of the confessional state (in Europe) and the regimes of religious diversity and separation (in non-European democracies) by analyzing 19 Western democracies with a Christian background and their current policies of integration. The paper hypothesizes a considerable diversity, not just between the “settler
countries” and the European countries. It attempts to show that cultural legacies such as Christian denominations, play an important role in shaping a country’s readiness to accommodate non-Christian immigrant groups, and that particular legacies tend to constrain efforts to recalibrate the religious power arrangements even in the most diverse democracies.
Michael Minkenberg, Dr. phil. habil., born in 1959, is professor of political science at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). Professor Minkenberg's research interests include the radical right in liberal democracies; immigration, nationalism and the politics of citizenship; and the relationship between religion and politics in Western societies.