Network identity and religious harmony: theoretical and methodological reflections.


  • Heinrich Schäfer Universität Hannover



In western tradition, identity has long been conceived of as something closed in itself, like a sphere or a globe. Samuel Huntington, for example, sees civilizations – or collective cultural identities – as closed units that are bound to clash as they meet. On the contrary, we conceive of identities as open networks of cognitive, emotional and corporal dispositions, acquired by individuals and collectives through socialization. Such dispositions enable people to perceive the world, to judge and to act. They are – in words of Pierre Bourdieu – operators of a practical logic and are based in the habitus of persons, groups or even whole civilizations. Such networks are constructed as open and dynamic, but also provide continuity; they have “thick” and “thin” areas, according to the significance of the area to the actor; they comprise any social field relevant to the actor. Moreover, this theory provides a method to empirically analyze dispositional networks of actors. Finally, the network model of cultural identity allows us to conceive of different cultures as distinct from one another and, at the same time, as having overlapping similarities. – The result: no clash of spheres, but similarities between networks. (Though circumstances prevented attendance, this paper was originally prepared for the IAHR regional conference on Religious harmony: Problems, Practice, Education Yogyakarta and Semarang, Java, Indonesia (27.9. to 3.10.2004).


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How to Cite

Schäfer, H. (2015). Network identity and religious harmony: theoretical and methodological reflections. Marburg Journal of Religion, 10(1).