Degree of Pluralization

Based on our concept of religious affiliation, data for 50 countries are collected in SMRE. As in our preliminary analyses of the then available data on 42 countries in the first phase of the project, all countries will be classified according to three broad categories of the structure of the religious composition of the respective population. Depending upon the availability of data and a minimum of data reliability, each country is classified as religiously fragmented, pluralized, or dominant. This categorization is based on the size of the single largest religious category within the SMRE data set.

  • Fragmented means that no religious group holds a share larger than 35 per cent of the total population.
  • Pluralized stands for a country in which the largest group is in the range of 35 to 60 per cent.
  • And any country with the largest religious group holding 60 per cent or more of the population has been categorized as Dominant.

The thresholds of 35 and 60 percent are based on historical experiences of countries in Europe having a history of religiously mixed populations in the 19th and 20th centuries. The classification reflects the findings of political culture research, which have frequently shown that the social and political role of religion varies with the proportion of the largest religious group or respectively of the size of religious minorities. (In addition, all cases are checked for possible classification problems occurring due to the chosen thresholds).