Religiousness in the Face of Uncertainty

Tuesday Seminar
Arvind Mishra
Date and Time: 
Tue, 18/10/2016 - 12:00am
02:57 PM to 04:27 PM
HSS Committee Room (MS 610)


Contrary to the prediction based on the theory of modernization that the role of religion would be very limited in modern social life as a consequence of the process of secularization, there is dramatic resurgence of religion in secular sphere of politics and as marker of ethnic identities. Some staunch believers of this theory argue that only in the Europe true modernization has occurred so far and the other parts of the world are still going through this process. A study based on a survey of 11 European countries indicate that the individuals scoring high on religiosity have high self-esteem as compared to the individuals scoring low on religiosity. Explanations of the place of religion/religiosity in modern as well as modernizing societies, employing the construct ‘secularization’, seem inadequate to account for such findings. According to uncertainty - identity theory, a social psychological approach, religion helps people to reduce feeling of uncertainty, which is an essential feature of modern social life. This theory further posits that the processes of modernization and globalization have accentuated the feelings of uncertainty in lives of individuals. This theory characterizes religion as a social group and religiosity as the extent a person identifies with the religion and subscribes to its ideology or worldview. Although the group-based character of religion helps people to overcome their existential anxiety, at times, under certain circumstances, identification with a religious group may also lead to extreme behavior such as terrorism, hyper-nationalism, genocide etc.


Arvind Kumar Mishra is an assistant professor in social psychology in Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.. His research mainly focuses on the role of self and social identity processes in (a) social cognition and intergroup relations; and in (b) achievement situations and social development. He was part of the research group which completed a major research on "Identity and collective experiences: A Study of Prayag Magh Mela in Allahabad, jointly sponsored by C.A.S., Department of Psychology, University of Allahabad and U.K. Academics under the Link programme of British Council. He was also involved in a major project on ‘Shared Spaces: Boundaries, Barriers and Bridges’, sponsored by ICSSR, New Delhi. He has jointly edited two books: Interrogating Development: Insights from the Margins (OUP, 2010); School Education, Pluralism and Marginality: Comparative Perspectives (Orient Blackswan, 2012).