Externe Publikationen

Religious actors and autocratization

Leininger, Julia
Externe Publikationen (2024)

in: Croissant, Aurel / Luca Tomini (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Autocratization, London: Routledge, 289-304, Print/E-Book

ISBN: 9781003306900
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003306900

Religious actors turned out to be key players in many of the current autocratization processes. So far, however, research on autocratization has paid only limited systematic attention to religious agency. The main contribution of this chapter is to provide the first systematic compilation of empirical findings on the role of religious agency in the third wave of autocratization. It assesses the applicability of widely used key concepts in the study of religion in regime change to the analysis of religious actors in autocratization processes. Making use of these concepts, the chapter assesses the main findings of current literature and identifies three typical roles of religious actors in autocratization: facilitator, victim, and defender. It argues that (un)intended effects of institutional path dependencies and institutional reforms of state–religion relations determine the influence and leverage of religious actors on autocratization processes. Furthermore, religious agency, in particular the emergence of nationalist religious movements, contributed substantially to autocratization, in particular through affective polarization strategies. There are reliable but only exemplary findings that religious actors helped to protect democracy. On this basis, the chapter ends with a proposal for a future research agenda.

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