26. november 2013

Book chapter: The spiritual revolution and social capital in Denmark

Even if the religiosity of the Danes, is changing the relationship between religiosity and social capital is not.

Book chapter by postdoctoral fellow Peter Lüchau, Department of Sociology, in "Religion and civil society in Europe", edited by Joep de Hart, Paul Dekker and Loek Halman, Springer, 2013.
Changing religiosity and its impact upon social capital The chapter combines studies of religiosity with studies of social capital. Previous studies have shown that Christian religiosity is an important predictor of involvement in voluntary organizations. The more often people attend church the more likely they are to be members of and/or do unpaid voluntary work for voluntary organizations. Such involvement is supposed to foster personal trust which is important as it is seen as making societies work more smoothly.

But what if religiosity in Denmark is changing either through decline or through a change in form and content? Will religiosity still foster involvement in voluntary organizations with all the societal benefits this entails?

The question is important because religiosity in Europe is changing. It has been claimed that traditional, collectivistic, God-centered Christianity is being replaced by individualistic spirituality. Because spirituality is individualistic is has no collective component and hence there should be no relationship between being spiritual and involvement in voluntary organizations. In that case the religious change sweeping across Denmark could mean a decline in social capital.

The results of the analyses, however, are quite surprising:

  1. Spirituality is not replacing Christian religiosity in Denmark.
  2. Spirituality is a good predictor of involvement in voluntary organizations.

Religion is still a good predictor of involvement in voluntary organizations Instead of replacing it spirituality is becoming an integrated element  in much of Christian religiosity in Denmark. There is no spiritual revolution but rather a religious evolution. Even if spirituality does not have a collective component it is nonetheless a good predictor of involvement in voluntary organizations. Hence the religious change seen in Denmark does not impact the production of social capital.

You can read more and buy the book at Amazon.com.