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From “Civil Religion” to Nationalism as the Religion of Modern Times: Rethinking a Complex Relationship

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Interest in civil religion periodically resurfaces in the academic world with renewed force, reflected in new theoretical contributions and empirical studies. Due to its long history, this concept has been given different interpretations and has been related to other social phenomena. One of these is nationalism. Several theoreticians have sought to explain nationalism as a manifestation of “civil religion” in modern times. This article examines the relationship between (civil) religion and nationalism. A brief review of the ideas of the main authors who have theorized about this relationship is followed by a criticism of theories concerning civil religion and nationalism as the religion of modern times. I demonstrate the significant shortcomings of those theories from a three-fold perspective: definitional, theoretical, and empirical-methodological.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology III University Complutense de Madrid

Publication date: June 1, 2009


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