Perspectives from Sociology: Modeling Religious Pluralism from Inward and Outward, by Karsten Lehmann and Anne Koch

The last decade has witnessed a significant increase in academic research on Interreligious Dialogue (IRD). Catherine Cornille’s 2013 Companion to Inter-Religious Dialogue calls for a consolidation of the discussions on interreligious dialogue in a new way. Along those lines, other scholars have started to interrogate the power dynamics and meaningful systematic relations that underlie dialogical activities emerging as the result of an increased religious pluralism worldwide.

Against this background, the paper at hand focuses on what can be – in the widest sense – described as ‘sociological approaches’ to the analysis of interreligious dialogue – with a particular emphasis on the concerned discussion in Germany. Since 2010, three works have set a new tone in the German study of IRD by introducing three major themes:

The usage of the concept of religion put forward by central actors in the field of interreligious dialogue.

The framing of interreligious dialogue activities with regard to concepts of ‘religious pluralism.’

The significance of conflict as a major concept in those debates.

The present article aims to follow this particular tradition. It asks the question to what extent an approach that treats IRD as a socio-cultural phenomenon can provide a contribution to the study of IRD in general.

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