William D. Kay
Michael S. Dukakis, Raymond G. Helmick, S.J.
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Department of Political Science
political science, religion, international relations, Orthodox Christianity, peace studies, rational choice, religious violence, terrorism, world religions
International Relations | Political Science | Public Affairs
The second half of the 20th century introduced an unexpected phenomenon-the rise of religion as a marker for political identity, and as a power for structure mobilization. Policymakers often ignored this de-privatization of religion, thus failing to comprehend and recognize its power either as an impetus for structure mobilization (e.g., the Iranian Revolution, Intifadas, etc.), or as a marker of collective identity (e.g., Balkans, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Northern Ireland, Middle East, etc.). This is also a consequence of the secularist configuration of statecraft, and of the lack of comprehensive political theory on the role of religion in the public life.
In general, religion does not only represent organized religious institutions, which uphold doctrines, ethical standards and patterns of worship, but it also represents a combination of formal and informal postulations about the human condition. Religion endorses assertions over what is held in private and what is held in common, it represents patterns of collective identity, it displays internal agreements and disagreements, pietistic behavior, personal interests and collective action, and so on. As a result, in collective violence, religion is never politically neutral, but has profound implications in generating or dissolving a conflict, thus influencing and affecting public and international policy.
The main thesis is that religion, in its essence, does not engender violence, but it is a source for peace and stability. Nevertheless, in its institutionalized form, religion often justifies and mimics violence, case in which religion plays an ambivalent role. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation is to make a contribution to the development of enhanced public and international policy for cases of collective violence, which involve religion as a key ingredient.
First, this dissertation maps out how religious leaders and policymakers are educated about collective violence (Chapters 2 & 3).
Second, chapter four of the dissertation offers an epistemological rational choice approach to the process in which religion interacts with collective violence. The main argument is built upon an analysis of the process by which religion interacts with collective violence internally, as a devotional instinct, and externally, within the framework of organized religions. The analysis rests on a distinction between the phenomenological approach to religion (focusing on sacrifice and scapegoat, identifiable in the most primitive function of religion), and organized religion, focusing on a tripartite approach to doctrine, ethics and worship, as informed by rationalism (prophet, spiritual leader), structuralism (internal power distribution), and culturalism (meaning). In this chapter I also argue that organized religion is ambivalent toward collective violence, due to its political interests, and in demonstrating this, I will test two hypotheses: Religion in Mimetic Rivalry, and Double-Competition hypothesis. The first hypothesis, Religion in Mimetic Rivalry, states that religious faith does not generate collective violence, but it is a source for social stability due to its rational intervention between the mimetic rivals through the rituals of sacrifice and scapegoat, which redirect frustration toward a victim that cannot afford to retaliate and continue the cycle of violence. The second hypothesis of the Double-Competition derives from the first hypothesis and states that a rivalry over a concrete object of desire triggers a surrogate rivalry which becomes the platform where the original conflict escalates, de-escalates, or remains at a constant level. As Double-Competition hypothesis demonstrates, any competition over a material object of desire is negotiated, resolved, or amplified in the context of a surrogate competition, which is contingent upon the handling of the object of desire from the original competition. Each rivalry (original and surrogate) has an object of desire and a scapegoat, and whether the conflict escalates, decreases or remains neutral, depends upon how these two factors are being interplayed in between the two rivalries. Therefore, one can identify three scenarios: positive (if the object of desire from the original rivalry becomes a scapegoat in the surrogate rivalry, the conflict most likely decreases), negative (if the object of desire of the surrogate rivalry is the same object of desire from the original rivalry, the conflict most likely escalates), and neutral (if the scapegoat from the original rivalry becomes a scapegoat or an object of desire in the surrogate rivalry, this is a logical incoherence which bears no impact on the conflict.) It is in the surrogate rivalry that religion intervenes both as a devotional instinct (faith) and as a political institution (organized religion.) As a devotional instinct, religion becomes a source of stability and peace. As a political institution, organized religion behaves ambivalently toward collective violence because it makes decisions based on its rational interests, which can either amplify or restrain the original rivalry.
Third, by capitalizing on the findings of political theory and religious studies, and in light of the findings of the Double-Competition theory, the final chapter (Chapter 5) proposes an instrumental applicability of the power of religion in policy analysis, policy design and policy implementation.
Marian Gheorghe Simion
Simion, Marian Gheorghe, "Religion in political conflict: a constructivist theoretical model for public policy analysis, design, and implementation" (2012). Public and International Affairs Dissertations. Paper 10. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20002691
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