A comparison of majority and minority religiosity across Europe

Ayse Güveli, University of Essex
Lucinda Platt, University of London

Studies on religion have made a come back after having been neglected with the prediction that religion will fade within modern world. Despite the historically low levels of religious commitment in the European societies, religion is becoming increasingly important in public and scholarly debates, predominantly in relation to immigrant and minority religions. This study focuses on the differences in religiosity between majority Christian or secular populations and immigrants in European countries. To what extent do immigrant and majority populations differ in their religious commitment and how can we explain these differences in European societies? We frame our question using theoretical perspectives deriving from demand- and supply-side theses, integration theory, and vulnerability and cultural axiom theses (Chaves & Gorski, 2001;; Iannaccone, 1994;; Stark, Finke, & Iannaccone, 1995;; Berger, 1967;; Bruce, 1999;; Norris and Inglehart,, 2004). We hypothesise that religiosity will be influenced by the institutional context within the destination country, in terms of support for religion, which itself will vary according to the migrant’s religion;; but that migrant characteristics will also matter, as well the country-specific density of the different ethno-religious groups.
To test our hypotheses concerning differential religiosity, we therefore employ both individual and contextual factors in terms of origin, destination and setting, determinants which have increasingly been employed in recent migration studies (Borjas, 1987, 1992, 1993;; Van Tubergen, 2006).We pool the existing four rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS) and also employ the European Value Survey (EVS) 2008. Both data sets include migration status and country of origin of the respondents and their parents, as well as questions on religion and religious practice. Our preliminary analyses indeed show that migrants are substantially more religious than natives but that the extent varies across migrant groups and religion and across and destination countries.

Keywords: religiosity, immigrants, European societies, multilevel analysis.

Presented in Session 31: Immigrant religion and integration across Europe