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Politics seminar: Religion and democracy in Asia and Africa

Public, Postgraduate students, Staff
Event type
School of Social Sciences

The within-country, fixed-effect literature on individual support for democracy on the part of the religious in Asia and Africa has produced conflicting results. This paper suggests that this is because analysts have not appreciated the various dimensions of religion and have taken little notice of the fact that people entertain different, sometimes conflicting notions of democracy.

Using data from the last three waves of the World Values Surveys (2005 –2020), and focusing on African and Asian countries, the study distinguishes between the belief and collective-behavioural dimensions of religion. These two dimensions are only weakly correlated in developing countries.

I investigate the expectations that respondents who profess belief in god/gods and for whom this belief is important (“Believers”), express more support for electoral democracy than those who regularly attend religious services/events (“Attenders”). The latter support electoral democracy only when their sectarian interests are served by it. Because the dominant notion of democracy that Believers entertain is authoritarian, the overall effect of religion on support for democracy is mixed, but more negative than positive.



Bronwyn Craig


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