Religion and Political Mobilization

  • Jóhanna K. BirnirEmail author
  • Henry D. Overos
Reference work entry


What is the role of religion in political mobilization? In this chapter, we examine developments in the literature as it considers the role of religion in political mobilization. Broadly speaking we outline two predominant lines of thinking about religion as a driver of political mobilization, the marketplace and theology. The former strand of thinking, we show, traces its roots as far back as the behavioral revolution and even further still. The second strand, popularized by global conflict events framed in religious terms, focuses on theology and differences between religions as motivating factors in mobilization. This line of thinking has largely been supplanted, while at the same time, it has forced the acknowledgment that while religion is an intervening instrument in mobilization across theology, religious experience likely plays a role in motivating elites and lay believers alike to mobilize. Finally, we outline some emerging areas for further research, including inquiry into the causes of religious preferences, mapping of the mechanisms of mobilization of the devout, clarification of the nexus of democracy and religion, and the increasing availability of data for continued exploration of the role of religion in mobilization.


Religion Political mobilization Ethnic conflict Marketplace of religion Secularization Religious institutions Theology 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Government and PoliticsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph Rudolph
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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