School textbooks and religion

  • Over the course of this project, we have developed several products and experimented with different methods. The conference ‘Textbooks and Religion’ took place in 2014. Using textbook analyses on religion, participants discussed the consequences of religious, sociocultural and media changes for the normative concepts, content, methods and stakeholders of educational media. The conference resulted in a peer-reviewed edited volume Schulbuch – Religion – Konstruktion. Religiöse Pluralität in interdisziplinärer Perspektive (Textbook – Religion – Construction: Religious Plurality from an Interdisciplinary Perspective). This volume seizes upon a number of desiderata related to problems of definition, terminology and delineation and related to a diverse array of subjects (ethics, religion, history and language, among others). The contributions show that the dynamic world of religion is rarely depicted in textbooks, and religious plurality is often understood with significant phenomenological, ecumenical, national and/or cultural limitations.
  • Within this framework, focusing on religious education textbooks in Southeastern Europe, a methodological exploration examined whether a praxeological approach based on Pierre Bourdieu’s work could be used as the basis for textbook analysis. The study demonstrated a strong correlation between the social positioning of those responsible for textbooks and the content of those books. An analysis of habitus also illustrated that the textbooks are not shaped by a habitus located primarily in the past but rather are linked with a habitus to be developed in the future.
  • A working paper discusses the intertwining of religion and sociocultural categories using the example of German ethics textbooks. On one hand, the paper found that references connecting religion and society at a micro-, meso- and macro level were frequently negative (war, terror, the oppression of women, family abuse). On the other hand, religion is also placed within an Abrahamic discourse, which, although positively connoted, leans strongly towards theological thinking. Thus, the textbooks’ portrayals of religion fail to fulfill their own standards.


  • 2015–2017

Project Funding

  • GEI


Zrinka Štimac

Knowledge in Transition

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Phone: +49 531 59099-318
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