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Religious diversity in Australia: rethinking social cohesion


Ezzy, D and Bouma, G and Barton, G and Halafoff, A and Banham, R and Jackson, R and Beaman, L, Religious diversity in Australia: rethinking social cohesion, Religions, 11, (2) Article 92. ISSN 2077-1444 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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2020 by the authors. Submitted for possible open access publication under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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DOI: doi:10.3390/rel11020092


This paper argues for a reconsideration of social cohesion as an analytical concept and a policy goal in response to increasing levels of religious diversity in contemporary Australia. In recent decades, Australian has seen a revitalization of religion, increasing numbers of those who do not identify with a religion (the "nones"), and the growth of religious minorities, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. These changes are often understood as problematic for social cohesion. In this paper, we review some conceptualizations of social cohesion and religious diversity in Australia, arguing that the concept of social cohesion, despite its initial promise, is ultimately problematic, particularly when it is used to defend privilege. We survey Australian policy responses to religious diversity, noting that these are varied, often piecemeal, and that the hyperdiverse state of Victoria generally has the most sophisticated set of public policies. We conclude with a call for more nuanced and contextualized analyses of religious diversity and social cohesion in Australia. Religious diversity presents both opportunities as well as challenges to social cohesion. Both these aspects need to be considered in the formation of policy responses.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:religious diversity, social cohesion, Australia, social policy, cosmopolitanism, deep equality, reasonable pluralism
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Religious studies
Research Field:Religion, society and culture
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Religion
Objective Field:Religion and society
UTAS Author:Ezzy, D (Professor Douglas Ezzy)
UTAS Author:Banham, R (Miss Rebecca Banham)
ID Code:137532
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP180101664)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2020-02-19
Last Modified:2020-03-23
Downloads:5 View Download Statistics

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