Religion and Politics (SOC 408)

2022 Fall
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Ateş Ali Altınordu,
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Formal lecture,Seminar
Communicative,Discussion based learning,Case Study
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This course examines the interaction of religious and political authorities, discourses, and institutions through historical, comparative, and normative perspectives. We will start our discussion with a survey of the role of religion in the formation of modern political institutions and identities, including the modern state, long-distance and national social movements, welfare regimes, and national identities. We will then investigate various aspects of religious politics, focusing in particular on religious movements and violence, the rise and transformation of religious parties, secularism as political ideology and movement and the relationship between religious politics and democracy. The course will conclude with a review of recent debates in political theory on the legitimate place of religion in public life and in the political sphere. In the course of the semester, we will discuss empirical cases drawn from Europe, the U.S., the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.


  • On completion of the course, students should be able to: Identify the ways in which religious authorities, organizations, and discourses influence political processes and outcomes.
  • Identify the ways in which politicization influences religion.
  • Relate real-life examples of religious social movements and parties to relevant theories in the academic literature.


1. Understand the world, their country, their society, as well as themselves and have awareness of ethical problems, social rights, values and responsibility to the self and to others. 5

2. Understand different disciplines from natural and social sciences to mathematics and art, and develop interdisciplinary approaches in thinking and practice. 4

3. Think critically, follow innovations and developments in science and technology, demonstrate personal and organizational entrepreneurship and engage in life-long learning in various subjects; have the ability to continue to educate him/herself. 4

4. Communicate effectively in Turkish and English by oral, written, graphical and technological means. 4

5. Take individual and team responsibility, function effectively and respectively as an individual and a member or a leader of a team; and have the skills to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. 2

1. Develop knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in humanities and social sciences. 5

2. Assess how global, national and regional developments affect society. 5

3. Know how to access and evaluate data from various sources of information. 4

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the multiple methodologies and interpret different approaches, concepts, and theoretical legacies in the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Studies. 3

2. Identify interconnections of knowledge within and across the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, literature, visual studies, philosophy, and geography. 4

3. Cultivate a critical approach to the study of culture, articulating the relations between culture, power, and history; exploring cultural diversity and socio-cultural change at the local, national and global level; and exploring the corresponding demands for rights and social justice. 5

4. With the use of appropriate technologies, be able to present advanced oral and written evaluations of developments in the realm of cultural production, consumption, and representation. 3

1. To analyze national and global events from various social science perspectives. 5

2. To demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge on political science and international relations and to state views and positions with advanced oral and written skills. 5

3. To compete for increasing career opportunities in national and global institutions. 3

4. To (be able to) understand and follow the changes in political behaviours, opinions and structures. 5

5. To gain the ability to make logical inferences on social and political issues based on comparative and historical knowledge. 5

1. Understand and follow changes in patterns of political behavior, ideas and structures. 5

2. Develop the ability to make logical inferences about social and political issues on the basis of comparative and historical knowledge. 5


  Percentage (%)
Final 40
Midterm 40
Participation 20



* Anna Grzymala-Busse. 2012. ?Why Comparative Politics Should Take Religion (More) Seriously.? Annual Review of Political Science 15: 421-442.
* Ateş Altınordu. 2022. ?Religion and Politics in Contemporary Turkey.? Pp. 357-372 in Armando Salvatore, Sari Hanafi, and Kieko Obuse. Eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East. Oxford University Press.
* Karl Marx. 1978. Selection from ?Contribution to the Critique of Hegel?s Philosophy of Right: Introduction.? Pp. 53-54 in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd edition. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York and London: W.W. Norton.
* Emile Durkheim. 1995. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York: The Free Press. Pp. 33-44, 207-216.
* José Casanova. 1994. Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago University Press. (11-39).
* Christian Smith. 1996. ?Correcting a Curious Neglect, or Bringing Religion Back In.? Pp. 1-25 in Christian Smith. Ed. Disruptive Religion: The Force of Faith in Social Movement Activism. Routledge.
* Aldon Morris. 1996. ?The Black Church in the Civil Rights Movement: the SCLC as the Decentralized, Radical Arm of the Black Church.? Pp. 29-46 in Disruptive Religion.
* Geneviéve Zubrzycki. 2010. ?Religion and Nationalism: A Critical Reexamination.? Pp. 606-626 in Bryan S. Turner. Ed. The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion. Blackwell Publishing.
* Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry. 2022. The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. Ch.1.
* Rogers Brubaker. 2015. ?Religious Dimensions of Political Conflict and Violence.? Sociological Theory 33 (1): 1-19.
* Michael A. Sells. 1996. The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. University of California Press. (29-70).
* Ateş Altınordu. 2010. ?The Politicization of Religion: Political Catholicism and Political Islam in Comparative Perspective.? Politics & Society 38 (4): 517-551.
* Cihan Tuğal. 2009. Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamic Challenge to Capitalism. Stanford University Press. (1-56).
* Christian Smith. 2003. ?Introduction: Rethinking the Secularization of American Public Life.? Pp. 1-96 in Christian Smith. Ed. The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life. University of California Press.
* Esra Özyürek. 2006. Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey. Duke University Press. (1-27; 93-124).
* Alfred C. Stepan. 2011. ?The Multiple Secularisms of Modern Democratic and Non-Democratic Regimes.? Pp. 114-144 in Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen. Eds. Rethinking Secularism. Oxford University Press.
* Rajeev Bhargava. 2010. ?The Distinctiveness of Indian Secularism.? Pp. 99-119 in Aakash Singh and Silika Mohapatra. Eds. Indian Political Thought: A Reader. Routledge.
* Andrew Davison. 2003. ?Turkey, a `Secular? State? The Challenge of Description.? South Atlantic Quarterly 102 (2?3): 333?350.
* Yüksel Sezgin and Mirjam Künkler. 2014. ?Regulation of `Religion? and the `Religious?: The Politics of Judicialization and Bureaucratization in India and Indonesia. Comparative Studies in Society and History 56 (2): 448-478.
* Ahmet Erdi Öztürk. 2018. ?Transformation of the Turkish Diyanet Both at Home and Abroad: Three Stages.? European Journal of Turkish Studies 27.
* David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam. 2012. "God and Caesar in America: Why Mixing Religion and Politics is Bad for Both." Foreign Affairs 91 (2): 34-43.
* Mucahit Bilici. 2018. ?The Crisis of Religiosity in Turkish Islamism.? Middle East Report 288: 43?45.
* Ayşe Çavdar. 2022. ?Never Walk Alone: The Politics of Unveiling in `New Turkey.?? Pp. 172-190 in The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Turkey. Edited by Pierre Hecker, Ivo Furman and Kaya Akyıldız. Edinburgh University Press.
* Alfred C. Stepan 2000. ?Religion, Democracy, and the `Twin Tolerations?.? Journal of Democracy 11 (4): 37?57.
* David T. Buckley. 2015. ?Beyond the Secularism Trap: Religion, Political Institutions and Democratic Commitments.? Comparative Politics 47 (4): 439-458.