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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

While religious change has recently become a major topic of analysis in the discipline of political science, scant attention has been paid to the process or meaning of religious conversion. This chapter provides an overview of the recent headway made in the study of politics, secularization, and religious change and points to areas where the study of conversion can enrich such research. Political studies of religious change should focus on conversion as a process rather than a single event, pay attention to the networks and narratives that frame conversion and channel individuals toward or away from religious and political affiliations, and acknowledge the implicit assumptions about conversion utilized in analytical models. Integrating insights from conversion studies can help political scientists to avoid the pitfalls of overgeneralization, understand the multiple lines of causality involved in conversion, and utilize methods that better capture the complexity of the interactions between religion and politics.

Keywords: religious change, political science, religion and politics, secularization, conversion, political affiliation, conversion narratives, implicit assumptions

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