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Module 5:
Forms of religious life
 

Local religious groupings in Switzerland and the USA

There are currently between 4,500 and 5,000 local religious groupings, also known as congregations, in Switzerland. Most of the quantitative research on religion and religiosity in Switzerland to date has been confined to analyses of individual Christian religiosity. Not once have Switzerland’s congregations or local religious groupings themselves been the subject of a representative, multi-faith study. Yet such a study, which would have to include not only Christian, but also Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and many other groupings, would not only provide new information, but also facilitate comparisons between religious congregations in Switzerland and their counterparts in the USA, where an analogous study is currently in progress. The puzzling question of why the USA is so much more religious than European countries could then be discussed on the basis of completely new data.

Objective
The study will help to address the following questions: Which religious, social, political and cultural activities do Switzerland’s congregations of various faiths offer? How are these local communities structured? How successful are they – measured in terms of growth in membership, for example? The last question to be raised would be that of how all these phenomena differ from their equivalents in the USA.

Significance
This study is important on the one hand from the scientific point of view, in that it will yield a large amount of completely new information. For although the differences in religiosity between the USA and European countries have indeed been discussed in some depth in the past, the question has never been studied on the basis of the appropriate data. On the other hand, the study will also be of value to society at large, in that political decision-makers, non-governmental organizations, religious information centres and, not least, religious communities themselves, will be able to profit from the findings.

Project title: Lokale religiöse Gruppierungen in der Schweiz und in den USA. Eine quantitative und vergleichende Studie

Project start: 1 September 2007
Duration: 36 months
Grant: 400,000 francs

Final report

Summary sheet



Prof. Jörg Stolz
Observatoire des Religions en Suisse, Université Lausanne
Bâtiment Provence
1015 Lausanne
+41 21 692 27 02

Further applicants
Professor Mark Alan Chaves
Department of Sociology
Duke University
Box 90088
Durham, NC 27708-0088


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Zurich, July 2005:
A visitor waiting to hear the Dalai Lama in the indoor stadium. (Photo: Keystone/Steffen Schmidt)