chapter  6
18 Pages

Empowerment or oligarchisation?

Interfaith governance of religious diversity in two German cities
WithAlexander-Kenneth Nagel

Interreligious and intercultural initiatives have been a vital part of urban life worlds in Germany for some decades. Having emerged from the Peace Movement or in response to xenophobic attacks, these initiatives gained new momentum after 9/11 as the overall public awareness vis-à-vis religious traditions (in particular, Islam) and their potential frictions increased. After they had dwelt at the very grassroots of civic engagements for most of the time, interfaith initiatives made it to the radar of urban politicians and administrators, who began to discover the governance of religious and cultural diversity as an important policy issue. In their perspective, interfaith initiatives were legitimate and effective instruments to allocate ‘appropriate’ religious stakeholders and to foster social cohesion by building up a stock of interfaith social capital. This chapter makes use of a comparative city case study to map approaches of interfaith governance in two German cities. In line with a classical tradition of social and political movement theory, it explores the hypothesis of an ‘oligarchisation’ and bureaucratisation of interfaith activism.