Political Science of Religion: Demarcating the Field

  • Maciej PotzEmail author


Beginning with the main theoretical and methodological assumptions of political science of religion, this chapter proceeds to conceptualizations of religion as a subject of study for social sciences and religious groups as actors within a functionally defined political system. Religious actors, perceived as communities or institutions, are analysed in terms of their ability to change the status quo (veto players vs. stakeholders) and their structure, resources and modus operandi. Finally, three main research perspectives within the discipline are outlined: economic, viewing religious actors as institutions maximizing their profits in transactions with other social actors; social movements theory (SMT), looking at religious actors through motives, resources and external constrains bearing on their potential for mass mobilization; and “cultural”, discussing individual sources of religion-driven political commitment. These three perspectives could be combined into a relatively coherent chain of causal explanations to provide a comprehensive account of political significance of religion.


Cultural approach Economic/transactional approach Political system Religious political actors Social movements theory (SMT) approach 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of International and Political StudiesUniversity of ŁódźŁódźPoland

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