The accommodation of religious diversity in Spanish public institutions (completed)

Julia Martínez-Ariño

European societies have experienced great transformations linked to the increase in international migrations in the last decades. The religious composition of their populations has changed significantly. Affiliation to traditional churches has dropped notably and religious diversity has increase markedly. New religious groups have appeared, while others, already present in these countries, have acquired greater public visibility. Religion has gained ground in the public sphere and religious issues are becoming more relevant on the policy agenda of most European governments. European countries face the challenges posed by the cultural and religious diversification of their populations to their existing state-church regimes from different starting points. While countries with no previous religious monopoly do not have to overcome structures and synergies of a past institutional monism, countries with a previous strong monopoly have to deal simultaneously with the requirements of liberal democracies, and the resistance of majority religions to the loss of privileges.

The religious landscape in Spain has also experienced significant changes, which have led to the reformulation of the traditional pattern of church-state relations in the last decade. The GEDIVER-IN project, directed by Dr. Joan Estruch and Dr. Mar Griera (ISOR, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness for the period 2011-2014, analysed how Spanish public institutions deal with the religious diversification of their target populations and how the traditional Catholic monopoly is being contested and negotiated within such contexts. Drawing upon fieldwork conducted in hospitals and prisons in Spain, the project went beyond the analysis of legal regulations, and paid attention to the institutional arrangements and daily strategies developed by state institutions, the Catholic Church and religious minorities to accommodate (or not) religious requests. This project contributes to theoretical discussions concerning the processes of institutional religious de-monopolization and religious minorities’ accommodation. It also provides a Southern European perspective to the research conducted by the Max Planck institute and in particular to the Fellow Group “Governance of Cultural Diversity”.


Project directors: Dr Joan Estruch and Dr. Mar Griera

Team members: Dr. Julia Martínez-Ariño, Dr. Gloria García-Romeral and Anna Clot


To find out more about the research network created out of the project, please visit this website:

Go to Editor View