Toward a Revival of Religion and Religious Clashes?

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Ellingsen, Tanja (2005) Toward a Revival of Religion and Religious Clashes?, Terrorism and Political Violence 17(3): 305–332.

In recent years several scholars claim to see a religious revival resulting in a resurgence of religious clashes. To what extent do these claims have validity? This article tries to answer this question by focusing on the importance of religion as a source of identity as well as a source of conflict for people, both over time and across cultures. Based on survey data from the World Value Surveys (WVS) as well as the Uppsala Conflict database, this article concludes that religion remains an important source of identity for people, and that to some extent it has become more important recently. Further, although the relative importance of religion varies between civilizations, religion remains an important factor in the West. These differences are not fully accounted for by economic and political factors, meaning that the type of civilization matters more for the importance of religion than whether the country is rich or poor. Religious differences also seem to increase the risk of intrastate armed conflict, at least since the end of the cold war. Although armed conflicts over identity are decreasing, those which do involve religious differences seem more intractable. In sum, these tendencies seem to confirm the notion of a resurgence of religion and religious conflicts.


Tanja Ellingsen

Tanja Ellingsen

Associate Professor of Political Science, NTNU