Religion and civil society: rethinking public religion in the contemporary world

Herbert, David (2003). Religion and civil society: rethinking public religion in the contemporary world. Ashgate Religion Culture and Society. Ashgate.

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Abstract

This book presents the first full-length study of the relationship between religion and the controversial concept of civil society. Across the world in the last two decades of the twentieth century religions re-entered public space as influential discursive and symbolic systems apparently beyond the control of either traditional religious authorising institutions or states. This differentiation of religion from traditional institutions and entry into secular public spheres carries both dangers and possible benefits for democracy.

Part one presents a critical introduction to the interaction between religion, modernization and postmodernization in Western and non-Western settings (America, Europe, the Middle East and India), focussing on discourses of human rights, civil society and the public sphere, and the controversial question of their cross-cultural application. Part two examines religion and civil society through case studies of Egypt, Bosnia and Muslim minorities in Britain, and compares Poland as an example of a Christian majority society that has experienced the public reassertion of religion.

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