Religion and Nation in Constitutions worldwide (RNCw)

This ONBound subproject relates to worldwide structures: it traces back religion and national identity in constitutional texts.

Constitutions implement and regulate societies in their most fundamental legislative way. Nowadays, they are a centrepiece of nation-building and an expression of modernity. In a sociological sense, constitutions are manifestations of power struggles at the time of their enactment and incorporate basic rules, regulations and values of a society. They provide not only the legal context for societies and their individuals. Additionally, they mirror the nations’ self-understanding.

For the subproject, the most recent versions of constitutional texts from 196 countries are analysed. The constitutions were drawn in autumn 2017 from the Constitute Project []. Constitutions provide particular data: constitutions are written documents comprising of similar basic elements and functions, they are easily accessible and more or less stable. That makes them especially suitable for comparison. For this reason, we do not include other legislative documents whose statuses vary according to country-specific legislation. The subproject’s dataset is strictly text-based.

To generate a detailed and reliable dataset we proceeded as follows: on the basis of a first reading of the constitutional texts we generated a codebook covering different aspects and dimensions which touch upon ‘religion’ and ‘national identity’. This codebook generated the basis for the main coding process. We coded all constitutional passages concerning ‘religion’ and ‘national identity’ according to codebook’s variables. To ensure intercoder reliability, four researchers coded all constitutions independently and compared their coding afterwards. Cases of doubt were discussed in detail to obtain an exhaustive and reliable data set.

The dataset covers ‘religion’ as state-religion-relationship, religious individual freedoms, and governmental arrangements (e.g. the possibility to refuse military service due to reasons of consciousness). ‘National identity’ is covered as self-description in the preamble (if it exists), as regulations of citizenship, as rights and duties of citizens (such as civil, political and social rights), as national symbols and as a relationship to international treaties. The dataset comprises of 133 variables in total, 59 concerning ‘religion’ and 74 about ‘national identity’. After completion, the dataset will include 196 analysed constitutions. Data is currently available for 66 constitutions. They can be matched with the individual ONBound-data as country-related contexts, e.g. for analysing the relationship between the official state-religion-relationship and individual religiosity (see an example of related context information here). They as well can be analysed on the macro-level in connection with other macro-variables such as degree of social cohesion, solidarity or the legitimacy of political institutions.