Get access

Civil Religion and National Politics in a Neoliberal Era

Authors


Abstract

Civil religion, or the connection of the nation-state, its history, destiny, and people, to understandings of transcendence or divinity, is in crisis both as a theoretical concept and as a politico-cultural phenomenon. The crisis has been brought about by the weakened capacity of the nation-state to generate collective identity and a version of ‘charismatic’ authority. We argue that this has resulted in a shift from the widely accepted conceptualization of civil religion as a unifying force in societies to a more exclusionary force that Williams (2103) calls “tribal civil religion” That, in its own way, undermines the nation-state. In this paper, we examine the history and various understandings of the concept of civil religion, develop an argument that the assault on the nation-state has meant the rise of increasingly exclusive and exclusionist expressions of civil religion, and present possible suggestions for sites where ‘unitive’ civil religion may still be found.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary