Religious identities and political attitude in Italy
Department of Sociology and Social Research University of Milano Bicocca Milano, Italy
The paper focuses on the interconnections between religious and political attitudes within the Italian religious associations, basing on original survey data.
This survey (2006) is part of a larger project research carried out by PolisLombardia (University of Milano-Bicocca), that included a survey addressed to associations participants in Lombardia and a telephone survey addressed to Lombardia population (either involved in association activities or not). The research design build up on a previous research addressed to the same target in 1992-3, made by IREF (Istituto di Ricerche Educative e Formative).
This paper will focus on the interconnections between political and religious identities of Catholic associations participants. Namely, we will explore: electoral behaviour, political attitudes, political activities and the relations with religious belonging, religious values and religious identity.
Religion in Italy has always had an high degree of politicization. The party system in the Italian first republic was built up with explicit references to the religious cleavage.
In both the first and the second Italian Republic, political parties used religion as a lever for obtaining electoral consensus. Especially in the last decades, political actors use ethical issues in order to mobilize religious actors and believers, trying to unify religious people under ethical themes supposed to attract "religious" vote. Nevertheless, Catholics political commitment cannot be reduced to electoral behaviour. Namely, religious movements and associations played an important role in the Italian political sphere, either as political actors or as places for political socialization.
There are two main interesting research outcomes. It seems that there are any connections between religious and political identity. Secondly, there is a clear separation between political involvement and political party commitment.