Today, conflicts on various social levels play an important role in theology and sociology of religion. At the macro and intermediate levels of society, actors, often from very differing religions, are participating in so-called “new wars”, such as in Bosnia, Palestine and Sudan, in order to either escalate the conflict or to foster peace. At a micro level, conflict mediation in schools is increasingly gaining in importance. In this field of research, we focus on religious identity conflicts and strategies of conflict management and reconciliation on all three social levels in various practical contexts.
Our empirical research on religion is largely guided by theory. We rely above all on Bourdieu and attempt to make use of central elements of his theory in the examination of religious practice and to develop them in new directions, e.g., into a theory of identity as network or a theory of a field of identity politics (ZiF).
This field of research arose with the emergence of fundamentalism at the beginning of the 1980s (USA and Iran). After initially focusing on the discursive construction of the claim of absoluteness, the current research emphasis lies on a formal theory of fundamentalism and a self-critical evaluation of European modernity. Research in this area remains topical, particularly in view of the fundamentalism debate carried out in the media, and it intends to establish a cross-religious framework of analysis.
Conflict mediation plays an increasingly important role in daily school life. Streib and Schäfer are working with students and a trained mediator (M.Stockmeier) to develop new training methods for future religion teachers in order to put Christianity’s potential for mediation into practice on this micro level.
Our systematic theological research is closely linked to the fields of empirical research. Our current research concentrates on reconciliation (in distinction to atonement) (as opposed to atonement), pneumatology and communitarian approaches to ethics.
Religious practice is closely interdependent with the social positions of religious actors. This is demonstrated especially clearly in Pentecostalism, which is currently the most dynamic religious movement in the world. We are interested in the fluidity of this movement’s adaptation to social friction and in its competency at transnational networking and ecumenical cooperation.