Modes of Religious Pluralism under Conditions of Globalisation

Ole Riis

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This article argues that there is a variety of modes of religious pluralism. Rather than different approaches to a common ideal, these modes of pluralism are political responses to different historical challenges. Policies developed to manage religious pluralism may stress religious toleration, rights for denominations, or individual religious freedom. In so far as either of these aspects may be given priority in policy strategies, the challenge of religious diversity as highlighted by recent processes of globalisation can be solved in different ways. On the basis of theoretical approaches to religious pluralism as developed in the sociology of religion, this article shows that pluralism may, on the one hand, lead to peaceful co-existence and even to ideological convergence. It demonstrates that, on the other hand, pluralism may also lead to social dissolution, since it intensifies the awareness of fundamental differences between religious world-views and might provoke social conflicts along religious lines. The outcome of a specific policy of religious pluralism therefore depends on various sociological aspects, including the distribution of political, economic and cultural resources (debate taken up in Beckford in vol. 1, no. 2 and in Smith in vol. 2, no. 1).

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Riis, Ole. Modes of Religious Pluralism under Conditions of Globalisation. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 1999, vol. 1, no.1, pp. 20-34. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

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