Dissertation, New School for Social Research (2003)
AbstractIn industrial societies where civil law and state institutions have become well established secular vehicles for governing the populace, it is widely assumed that the state no longer has an interest in fortifying the religious sector as a complementary source of social control. Thus, a distinction is drawn between the Islamic state that is ruled by religious law and the secular state of Western industrial societies in which religion is deemed to have lost its influence in the public sphere. This dissertation argues that civil law is not religiously neutral and thus challenges a central premise of secularization theory. Introducing a new theoretical model that classifies civil law on the basis of its purpose-to protect religious liberty, engage or fortify the religious sector, or to advance universal norms-the author examines the impact of the three different types of legislation upon religious freedom and the individual autonomy of religious minorities in Sweden, an aggressively secularized industrial society. The author concludes that, viewed from the standpoint of a religious nonconformist, there is no discernible difference between living in a society that is overtly ruled by religious law (e.g., an Islamic state) and living in a "secular” society that is ruled by civil law either embedded with religious norms or designed to facilitate state appropriation of the religious sector as a complementary means of social control. In either environment, the author argues, the religious nonconformist will be forced to conform to the religious norms of the predominant religious group.
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