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Religious diversity in the neoliberal welfare state: Secularity and the ethos of egalitarianism in Sweden


Schenk, Susanne; Burchardt, Marian; Wohlrab-Sahr, Monika (2015). Religious diversity in the neoliberal welfare state: Secularity and the ethos of egalitarianism in Sweden. International Sociology, 30(1):3-20.

Abstract

Sociologists interested in religious change and state–church relations have, by and large, ignored how regimes of religious diversity and secularism interact with factors that are seemingly external to religious dynamics such as cultural notions of the welfare state and its neoliberal restructuring. This article fills this lacuna by exploring the social dynamics around secularity and religious diversity as they emerge in contestations around educational reforms in Sweden. The authors show that the language of ‘consumer choice’ that pervades discourses around public service provision in many late capitalist societies coalesces with human rights driven legal demands for greater religious freedom in justifying religious pluralism in education. These arguments, though, run up against Swedish understandings of egalitarianism as chiefly implemented through unified schools that are widely, but especially in governmental bureaucracies, viewed as a Swedish ‘tradition’. Theoretically, the article develops and builds the concept of ‘Multiple Secularities’.

Abstract

Sociologists interested in religious change and state–church relations have, by and large, ignored how regimes of religious diversity and secularism interact with factors that are seemingly external to religious dynamics such as cultural notions of the welfare state and its neoliberal restructuring. This article fills this lacuna by exploring the social dynamics around secularity and religious diversity as they emerge in contestations around educational reforms in Sweden. The authors show that the language of ‘consumer choice’ that pervades discourses around public service provision in many late capitalist societies coalesces with human rights driven legal demands for greater religious freedom in justifying religious pluralism in education. These arguments, though, run up against Swedish understandings of egalitarianism as chiefly implemented through unified schools that are widely, but especially in governmental bureaucracies, viewed as a Swedish ‘tradition’. Theoretically, the article develops and builds the concept of ‘Multiple Secularities’.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Date:2015
Deposited On:01 Mar 2016 07:28
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 20:10
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:0268-5809
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0268580914558891

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