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Organization-specific Opportunity Structures for Religious Accommodation


February 25, 2015
1:15pm - 2:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
February 25, 2015
1:15pm - 2:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall

What explains the way in which public institutions in Europe deal with
religion and religious diversity and with Islam in particular? Comparative
studies in the sub-field of migration research have come up with two kinds
of explanations: 1) accommodation of Islam can be explained by
cross-national differences in the relationship between state and religion
or 2) the way Islam is accommodated in specific contexts defies all
national models and reveals the dominance of a pragmatic approach to these
questions. It is the aim of the present research project to open a third
perspective that focuses on organization-specific opportunity structures
for religious accommodation and their relationship to national principles
of state-religion relationship. I suggest that this focus on the
organizational meso-level can help to explain some of the within-country
variance in religious accommodation (i.e. Islam is accommodated
differently in schools, prisons, hospitals etc.) as well as cross-national
commonalities in how a particular public institution deals with religion
and with Islam in particular. I present evidence from a qualitative
comparative research project on religious accommodation and the
integration of Islam in the military of five European countries and the
U.S.. I focus on aspects of organizational change induced by the
integration of Islam, most importantly the creation of a Muslim military
chaplaincy but also time off for prayer, the accommodation of dietary
requests and religious holidays.

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