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Public Religion and State Transformation: Zero-Sum Game or Fruitful Partnership?

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Modern nation states appear to be under siege: economic transactions and environmental pressures come along in global dimensions and along with transnational mass communication and religious communities call into question the paradigm of secular nationalism. While political scientists have supplied useful heuristics to examine the transformation of modern states under these conditions, they have widely disparaged the religious factor as a premodern atavism. Scholars of religious studies, on the other hand, have celebrated the 'new' publicity of religion, but established an overtly antagonistic concept of religion and the state. In this article I try to connect the two debates by arguing that the role of public religion for state transformation can be understood in institutionalist terms of public-private partnerships rather than as a zero-sum game.


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