PHEB701 Religion and Politics


The present course focuses on different sociological and philosophical theories which consider the role of religion in modernity and late modernity. This course gives students the opportunity to discuss specific cases of religious argumentation and trace out their political instrumentalization in the contemporary public life. The course reviews also different methodological approaches concerning the functions of the religion in the contemporary world.

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Asst. Prof. Teodora Karamelska, PhD

Course Description:


After completing successfully this course the students will:

1) know:

• classical and modern philosophical and sociological theories of religion

• different approaches and methods for the empirical study of religion in the late modern world

2) are capable of:

• identifying the socio-cultural factors for religious conflicts

• analyzing various forms of religious activism in the public sphere


Full-time Programmes

Types of Courses:

Language of teaching:


  1. Secularization theory: a conceptual framework
  2. Sociological theories of religion in the late modernity. Desecularization and social change
  3. The term fundamentalism in Christianity, Hinduism and Islam
  4. Political Islam and the secular state in Turkey
  5. Political Hinduism: strategies of identity-building and mobilization
  6. Who are the new jihadis? European terrorists, nihilists who adopt Islam or religious fundamentalists?
  7. Holistic spirituality and fuzzy fidelity in Europe: the decline of organized religion. Religion and gender
  8. Bioethics and religions: religious traditions and Understandings of the Beginning of Human Life (Abortion)
  9. Bioethics and Religions II: Religious Traditions and Understandings of the End of Human Life (Euthanasia)
  10. Religion and the new media
  11. Religion in Bulgaria after 1989: sociocultural aspects
  12. Focused film discussion: A Prophet (2009), Director Jacques Audiard
  13. Discussion database: European Values Study
  14. Current control


Backstrom, A., G. Davie, N. Edgardh, P. Pettersson. 2011. Welfare and Religion in 21st century Europe (Volume Two): Gendered, Religious and Social Change. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Beck, U., Grande, E. 2010. “Varieties of second modernity: extra-European and European experiences and perspectives”. In: British Journal of Sociology, Vol 61, Issue 3. 406–638.

Berger, P. L. 2011. Dialogue between Religious Traditions in an Age of Relativity. Mohr Siebeck.

Berger, P. L. 1999. (ed.) The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Casanova, J. 1994. Public Religions in the Modern World (University of Chicago Press.

Cesari, J., J. Casanova. 2017. Islam, Gender, and Democracy in Comparative Perspective. Oxford University Press.

Gulalp, H., G. Seufert (ed.) Religion, Identity and Politics. Germany and Turkey in Interaction. 2013. Routledge.

Davie, G., P. Heelas, L. Woodhead. 2003. Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Davie, G. 2007. “Vicarious Religion: A Methodological Challenge”. In: Nancy T. Ammerman (ed.). Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 21–35.

Davie, G. 2002. Europe: the Exceptional Case. Parameters of Faith in the Modern World. Darton, Longman & Todd.

Kanev, P. “Religion in Bulgaria after 1989: historical and sociocultural aspects”. In: SEER: Journal for Labour and Social Affairs in Eastern Europe, Vol. 5, No. 1 (May 2002). 75-95.

Lal, V. (ed.) Political Hinduism: The Religious Imagination in Public Spheres. 2010. Oxford University Press.

Roy, O. (et all.) European Islam: Challenges for Society and Public Policy. 2008. Centre for European Policy Studies.

Roy, O. Globalized Islam. 2004. Hurst/Columbia University Press.

Taylor, Ch. 2007. A Secular Age. Harvard University Press.

Taylor, Ch. 2002. Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited. Harvard University Press.

Voas, D. 2009. “The Rise and Fall of Fuzzy Fidelity in Europe”. In: European Sociological Review 25 (2). 155–168.

Woodhead, L. 2012. Strategic and Tactical Religion. Conference Paper (“Sacred Practices of Everyday Life”, AHRC/ESRC Religion & Society programme, 8-11 May). Edinburgh.

Woodhead, L., R. Catto (eds.). 2012. Religion and Change in Modern Britain. London: Routledge.

Woodhead, L., P. Heelas. 2005. The Spiritual Revolution. Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Oxford, Malden: Blackwell.