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Promotie Mw. A.F. Sluis: Towards a virtuous society. Virtues as potential instruments to enhance bridging social capital

When:Th 12-06-2014 16:00 - 17:00
Where:Doopsgezinde Kerk

The Islam has been a fast-growing religion in Western European societies. As some of the norms, values and beliefs of the Islam are seen as incompatible with the Western European culture, the Islam is often perceived as a threat to this culture. This perceived threat may have negative consequences for the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. As religion plays a major role with regard to perceived differences between Muslims and non-Muslims, it is worthwhile to investigate whether a concept relevant to religion – namely virtues – may be helpful to improve their mutual relations.

The studies described in this dissertation focused on the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Netherlands. The findings showed that both groups considered virtues that refer to concern about others (e.g., respect and love) and to optimism (e.g., joy) as important. The more non-Muslims pursuit these virtues, the more they  accept the participation of Muslims in society while keeping their own cultural and religious identity. Therefore, these virtues may offer a positive contribution to improving the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. This does not apply to all virtues: The pursuit of some virtues, e.g. decency and obedience, may even have a negative effect. Furthermore, based on the way Muslims and non-Muslims interpret the virtues they regard as important, especially respect, followed by openness and love can positively contribute to improving their mutual relations.The way the specific virtue is interpreted does play an important role with regard to this potentially positive contribution.

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