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Unit information: Religion, Ethnicity and Value Change in 2020/21

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Unit name Religion, Ethnicity and Value Change
Unit code SOCIM0010
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Umut Parmaksiz
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit examines the links between religion, ethnicity, and value change. Modernisation, economic security and education appear to lead to the prioritisation of self-actualisation over survival and material needs. Successive social generations, compared with those born before the arrival of the Welfare State, seem less survival-focused, less group-oriented, more liberal, and more tolerant of difference. At the same time, value shifts have also affected traditional prejudice based on ethnic and racial difference, with important generational differences apparent among those of immigrant origin, where the values and priorities of first-generation immigrants and their children are often very different.

The direction of such value shifts and their importance for society has been complicated, however, by the arrival of hypermigration, superdiversity, post-secularity and growing economic precarity. These phenomena have affected different social groups unequally. Society is witnessing a changing public policy agenda and the emergence of a ‘new left’ and ‘new right’. Immigration, race and religion are in the foreground of public attention, and there is growing evidence of ‘new racism’.

This unit examines changes in social and political values as a source of secularisation and ethnic integration, alongside the question of whether new cultural cleavages are emerging between different ethno-religious groups, particularly in the civic realm. The overarching aim is to introduce students to the concept that value shifts serve as the pathway whereby modernisation affects ethnicity and religion. We additionally aim for students to develop an advanced-level understanding of migration, the blurring and brightening of ethnic boundaries, generational change in political culture, and the connections between religion and ethnicity.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

• define and critically assess concepts used in the discussion of religion, secularisation, postsecularity, ethnicity and basic values;

• situate religion, secularity, migration, ethnicity and value change in their social context;

• explain and evaluate the use of data and methods appropriate to the field;

• assess and make connections between scholarly, popular and policy understandings related to religion, ethnicity and issues such as integration, inequality and civic engagement.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

1500 word essay for formative assessment and feedback (0%).

4000 word essay (100%).

Both assessments assess all learning outcomes

Reading and References

Peter Ester, Michael Braun and Peter Mohler, Globalization, Value Change and Generations: A Cross-National and Intergenerational Perspective (Leiden: Brill, 2006).

Rob Ford and Matthew Goodwin, Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014).

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Allen Lane, 2012).

Anthony F. Heath, Stephen D. Fisher, Gemma Rosenblatt, David Sanders and Maria Sobolewska, The Political Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide (Cambridge University Press, 1994).