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Non-religiosity in Croatia: sociological aspects of organizing of non-religious and atheists


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Hazdovac Bajić, Nikolina. (2017). Non-religiosity in Croatia: sociological aspects of organizing of non-religious and atheists. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Sociology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij sociologije) [mentor Marinović Jerolimov, Dinka].

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The main aim of this dissertation is to acquire new scientific knowledge on the phenomenon of non-religiosity and atheism in Croatia through the research of their organized forms. The basic theoretical perspective from which the work proceeds is Campbell's (1971a, 1971b) sociology of non-religiosity that considers non-religiosity as a reactive, relational and dynamic phenomenon in relation to (culturally relevant) religion. Campbell's theoretical frame is complemented by an identity-based approach to the non-religiosity found in the work of Cimino and Smith (2007; 2010; 2014) and Smith (2010; 2013). Comprehensive overview of the literature on non-religosity and atheism which is presented in the first part of this study served as a base for construction of a theoretical and methodological model for the analysis of non-religiosity in the Croatian socio-historical context. Studied phenomenon was approached from several different perspectives, so mixed methodology approach was used in the empirical part of the work. The content analysis method was used for the analysis of documentation and web pages of organized forms of non-religiosity and atheism. In the second phase of the research, a survey was conducted among the members of the organizations (N = 292) followed by a semi-structured in-depth interview (N = 22). In this way, the survey data was used as an incentive for interview questions, and interviews provided inductive validation, contextualization and additional interpretation for survey data. The basic premise is that social regulation of religion affects the social position of nonreligious citizens and atheists. Religious regulation at the state (institutional) level is implemented by the Constitution, laws (the Law on the Legal Status of Religious Communities) and individual contracts with religious communities (Croatian Treaties with the Holy See also known as Vatican Contracts and Contracts on Issues of Common Interest between Croatia and other religious communities). Considering the legal framework and its implementation, there is the possibility for the non-religious persons and atheists to percive their own identity as unequal, stigmatized and discriminated against. So, organizing and constructing collective nonreligious/atheist identity is the answer to the wider socio-political context in which it is formed. Special problem stemming from the legislative regulation of religion is the implementation of the confessional religious education in public schools, which encourages legal responses and protests at the organization level. At the individual level, members of organized forms of non-religiosity and atheism, however, although generally opposed to religious education in public schools, are practically reacting out of conformism or because of their own values of free upbringing and leaving children to make their own decisions about religious beliefs. In doing so, persons who have been attending the religious education themself tend to enroll their children in religious education at statistically significant level. On the other hand, for some parents the issue of religious education in public schools provokes stronger engagement within organizations and greater commitment to separating religion and the education system. Beside the problem of religious education in public schools, important issues stemming out of social regulation of religion (which gives the perception of Catholic Church as priviledged), are politicization of (non)religiosity and atheism, and the omnipresence of religion and religious symbols (in public space, media, education system). In this way, non-religious people and atheists believe that Catholic religious values are "imposed" as universal to the society as a whole. Accordingly, one of the most important causes of perception of their identity as unequal, stigmatized and discriminated against (significantly worse than of a person with a religious worldview) derives from the perception of their own value system as an endangered one. Organizing of non-religios persons and atheists is therefore largely motivated by the effort to defend and promote "secular sacred" values. Regarding the way this should be done, there is a difference between non-religious and atheist organizations which includes different basic goals, activities, strategies, group dynamics, form of organization, etc. According to these differences they can be divided on institutional and cultural type (see also Cimino and Smith, 2014; LeDrew, 2015b). By using specific strategies and emphasizing specific goals institutional type of organizations generates collective identity more like subculture or community within the dominant one. Hence, it seeks to strengthen the internal solidarity by using minority discourse and referring to its endangered status, but also acting with the goal of incorporating it into a wider society by emphasizing positive values and beliefs. Contrary, cultural type of organizations builds its collective identity on strategies aimed at gaining broader social support in order to induce the changes of the society itself, hence as a new social movement (or beggining of it). At the same time, at the individual level, depending on the affirmation of their own nonreligious/atheist identity, individuals tend to involve in the organizations but that doesn't mean necessarily that they will develop collective identity. Although members of nonreligious/ateheist organizations perceive their identity in society as unequal, discriminated and stigmatized, in their own lives, at the everyday level, they do not experience this stigmatization and discrimination, partly because their non-religious/atheist identity is expressed strategically in order to avoid it. Consequently, (larger) part of the members of organizations lacks some of the key components of collective identity (non-adherence to goals, activities and strategies or lack of common cognitive definitions and absence of network of active relationships) so they are not developing it. Based on (not)development of collective identity members of the nonreligious/atheist organizations could be divided on institutional and cultural type (who accept institutional or cultural type of collective identity, respectively) and distanced type who doesn't develop collective identity due to various causes.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: non-religiosity, atheism, organized forms of non-religiosity/atheism, nonreligious/atheist identity, collective identity, Croatia
Subjects: Sociology
Departments: Department of Sociology
Supervisor: Marinović Jerolimov, Dinka
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij sociologije
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 09:17
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2017 09:17

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