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Engaging for the Common Good in Italy. Studying the Effects of Public funding of Buddhist Organisations on Initiating Civic Engagement Activities

English title Engaging for the Common Good in Italy. Studying the Effects of Public funding of Buddhist Organisations on Initiating Civic Engagement Activities
Applicant Baumann Martin
Number 197197
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar Universität Luzern
Institution of higher education University of Lucerne - LU
Main discipline Religious studies, Theology
Start/End 01.10.2020 - 30.09.2024
Approved amount 299'250.00
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Keywords (10)

Buddhism; Switzerland; Buddhist organisations; Italy; civic engagement; public funding; Engaged Buddhsim; otto-per-mille regulation; state governance; religious minorities

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Projekt untersucht Formen und Umfang bürgerlichen Engagements buddhistischer Organisationen in Italien und der Schweiz. Ziel der Forschung ist es, die Auswirkungen des italienischen finanziellen Fördersystems für Religionsgemeinschaften auf das zivilgesellschaftliche Engagement buddhistischer Organisationen in Italien im Vergleich zum Engagement buddhistischer Organisationen in der Schweiz zu analysieren.
Lay summary

In Italien besteht seit 1985 das "otto-per-mille"-Gesetz, durch das 0,8 Prozent der jährlichen Einkommenssteuer je nach persönlicher Wahl berechtigten religiösen Organisationen zugewiesen werden. In den Jahren 2012 und 2016 erhielten die beiden grössten buddhistischen Organisationen, die Italienische Buddhistische Union und das Italienische Buddhistische Institut Soka Gakkai, diesen Status und haben seitdem Steuergelder in erheblichem Umfang erhalten. Grosse Teile der Summen wurden für verschiedene Aktivitäten des bürgerlichen Engagements verwandt. Das qualitative Projekt untersucht die Veränderungen von Umfang und Struktur des buddhistischen Engagements aufgrund dieses Mittelzuflusses und fragt nach den religiösen Beweggründen für bürgerschaftliches Engagement buddhistischer Organisationen. Der Vergleich mit dem bürgerschaftlichen Engagement buddhistischer Organisationen in der Schweiz, wo kein solches Förderprogramm besteht, soll neue Einsichten zu den Engagementsmotiven und -formen und zu den unterschiedlichen länderspezifischen Rechts- und Staatsregimen in Bezug auf religiöse Minderheiten hervorbringen. Das Projekt verwendet theoretische Ansätze auf der Mesoebene zur Strukturierung religiöser Organisationen und dem Umfang bürgerschaftlichen Engagements und auf der Makroebene Governance-Theorien zu den länderspezifischen Staatsregimen religiöser Diversität.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.10.2020

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
165874 Biographische Prozesse von religiöser Um- und Neuinterpretation: Vietnamesisch-buddhistische Jugendliche und junge Erwachsene in der Schweiz und Deutschland 01.04.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
140411 Bürgerschaftliches Engagement in religiösen Immigrantenvereinen im Kontext gesellschaftlicher Inkorporationsbedingungen. Eine vergleichende Untersuchung zu muslimischen, hinduistischen und buddhistischen Vereinen in der Schweiz und Österreich 01.07.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
172138 Migrantengemeinschaften, religiöse Identitäten und zivilgesellschaftliche Einbindung. Qualitative Befunde für Deutschland und die Schweiz im Vergleich 01.07.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The Italian state implemented a new law of allocating public funding to entitled religious organisations in 1985. The law titled otto-per-mille, i.e. a compulsory 0.8 per cent of the annual personal income tax, has contributed to a significant change of the religious landscape, especially when the Italian state ratified agreements with various religious organisations that enabled them to become direct receivers of the otto-per-mille funds. In 2012 and 2016, also two Buddhist organisations were given this status and have since received considerable amounts of tax money which has to a large extent been spent on civic engagement activities. The proposed project (1) examines the changes in Buddhist engagement structures that were brought forth by these developments and (2) asks for the religious and other motivations for civic engagement by Buddhist practitioners and organisations in Italy. More specifically, we ask how have the scope and structure of Buddhist engagement activities have changed since the implementation of the agreements and receipt of financial support based on the otto-per-mille regulations? Also, why are Buddhist practitioners and organisations civically engaged and which Buddhist and non-Buddhist concepts, principles and values do the organisations refer to for their engagement? And finally, what effects are observable in view of the societal incorporation of the civically engaged Buddhist organisations in the local, regional and national contexts?Over the last two decades, in Italy the number of Buddhists has grown rapidly from some 74,000 in 2001 to some 325,000 people in 2019 according to Introvigne and Zoccatelli 2019. The growing importance of the two largest Buddhist organisations, the Italian Buddhist Union and the Italian Buddhist Institute Soka Gakkai received acknowledgement by two state agreements. Up to now, no study has scrutinised the effects of the otto-per-mille agreements with the Buddhist organisations as well as the probable changes in scope and structure of Buddhist civic engagement activities. The research project aims to reduce this lacuna by implementing a theory-driven empirical study and analysis. In terms of theory, we suggest combining the civic engagement approaches by Richard P. Adler and Judy Goggin (2005) and Fred Kniss and Paul D. Numrich (2007). The qualitative investigation will study past and current Buddhist civic engagement activities by means of expert interviews, ethnographic observations, and content analysis of media reports as well as Buddhist programs, websites and grey literature.The project requests financial support for a Ph.D. position for Tiziano Bielli for the duration of 48 months, carrying out the research in Italy. While the PhD candidate will scrutinise the change of scope and structure of Buddhist engagement activities, the applicant will comparatively study the scope and structure of civic engagement activities of Buddhist organisations in Switzerland where no such public funding scheme for minority religions is in practice.The proposed project will generate new insights of the recently rapidly growing Buddhist minority in Italy and its scope of public civic engagement. Furthermore, it will contribute new understanding of the effects of the public funding for minority religions on the range of activities and participation in civil society.
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