NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

Overcoming individualism: exploring the persisting religious organizations’ ways of keeping their position

Kalle Toivo

Current studies in the field of sociology of religion often claim that religions and religiosity are changing in the modern western societies. Many religious organizations, however, adhere to very rigid and established administrational and religious practices.
If religiosity is indeed changing, age-old religious organizations are facing difficult times. In my presentation I’m concentrating on the methods that hegemonic religion, in this case the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland, is employing to keep its position and its relatively huge membership. I’m especially concentrating on the acquisition of political power and national relevance and on the other hand on the enduring organizational structures and ritual practices. The key actors are the Lutheran bishops and higher administrational organs of the Lutheran Church.
I'm arguing in my presentation that despite the supposed changes in religiosity, religious organizations continue to thrive, at least in certain circumstances. Without the supply of certain religious products - done effectively in large scale solely by religious organizations – there can’t be any consequent religious practices. My goals are to evaluate the changing (market/national) position of “old” religious organizations and to examine the important factors (organizational structure/administrational practices/religious leadership/political position) enabling the continuing existence and in some cases, success, of religious organizations.