Psychology and Civil Society

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The role of diffused religion
Diffused religion, that is that set of values, practices, beliefs, symbols, attitudes and behaviours which do not completely conform to the official model of church-religion, coincides almost entirely, or at least for a great part, with a significant part of civil society. Diffused religion does not perfectly overlap civil society, but it certainly constitutes a statistically relevant quota ofit. In other terms, it embraces a wide range of civil society, and it is representative of its main trend as regards orientations, at least towards the Church (or the churches). Therefore, it can be said that it is not the whole of civilsociety that coincides with diffused religion, as the latter includes church-religion, as well as atheism, indifference, agnosticism. Nevertheless, diffused religion seems to interpret some essential expectations whose importance is signified by their influence on the whole society. However, diffused religion must be distinguished from civil religion. It is not a question of finding in it Rousseau's old idea (1712-1778) as expressed in his Social Contract (chap. VIII, book IV), or the more recent concepts ofBellah (1967). Neither fits the Italian case. Rousseau's idea was developed in the context of the XVIII century, with a pedagogical-philosophical connotation; Bellah's concept, although sociological, was related to the territory ofthe United States, with characteristics totally foreign to the Italian peninsula (from the concept of elected people to that of the centrality of the biblical texts). Above all, substituting the idea of religion itself with that of societydoes not seem to be legitimated: one thing is religion, another is society, at least as regards sociological analysis.In conclusion, civil religion and civil society cannot be compared to one another, being two separate elements. At most, one could speak of a diffused religion within civil society, and eventually about a civil religion (to be...
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