Religion, political participation and civic engagement: women’s experiences

Brenda O’Neill

in Faith in the public realm

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420305
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302285 | DOI:
Religion, political participation and civic engagement: women’s experiences

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The significance of religion in shaping political and civic behaviour has received significant attention over the years. However, in this area of research, the women have received less attention. This is because of the religion's longstanding negative impact on women's equality and the traditional roles that it can assign to them in public and private sectors. To understand comprehensively the link between religion, political participation and civic engagement, it is necessary to explore the women's experiences in faith communities. This chapter hence examines the connection between spirituality and religion and women's political and civic engagement. It distinguishes ‘spirituality’ and ‘religiosity’ and explores how religion moulds the women's political and civic engagement. It focuses on how women respond to religious influences and how these shape the women's decisions concerning active citizenship. Importantly, the chapter focuses on a comparison of the civic and political engagement of women who identify with an organised religion and those who prefer to label their religious beliefs and practices as ‘spirituality’.

Keywords: religion; women; political participation; civic engagement; spirituality; religiosity; religious influences

Chapter.  7274 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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