2013-12-03 Religion and Welfare in Europe: Thinking Theoretically


Open lecture by Grace Davie, professor emeritus in Sociology at the University of Exeter, UK.

3 december 2013 at 10.15-12.00, Engelska Parken Thunbergsvägen 3H, 16-0043

This lecture will start by outlining a set of comparative projects which were centred on the Uppsala Religion and Research Centre.It will continue by posing a series of theoretical questions that arise from these initiatives, including some observations about gender.Particular attention is paid to the work of two key theorists:Gøsta Esping-Andersen and David Martin.Esping-Andersen’s work provides a touchstone for the understanding of welfare regimes; Martin’s work is equally well-known in the sociology of religion.Seldom, however, are the two perspectives brought together.

All West European societies are faced with the same dilemmas regarding the provision of welfare and all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, are considering alternatives to the state for the effective delivery of services.  These alternatives include the churches.  Each society, however, has to face these questions within the parameters set by the past:  what is, or is not, possible varies from place to place.  It is well-known that the institutional separations of welfare and religion across Europe were dependent on key historical factors; it is less frequently realized that the same is true in terms of the options currently available.  Such a statement has crucial implications for policy, a point that will be illustrated from the case studies covered in the Project.