Responses to Religious Diversity in Spain: Hospitals and Prisons from a Comparative Perspective

Julia Martínez-Ariño, Mar Griera


The increase in religious diversity is an indisputably clear trend in most European countries. This transformation has given rise to challenges to the ways in which states and secular institutions have traditionally provided their services. Our research is embedded in academic debates about the responses of secular state-run institutions to the religious diversification of the population. We compare two different institutional settings: prisons and hospitals. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in eight prisons and six hospitals in two regions in Spain, we show that there is no single nationwide policy that addresses religious diversity in public institutions. Rather we suggest that institution-specific characteristics along with context-related factors help explain how these two types of institutions respond differently to religious diversity. This shows how national regimes of state secularism are deployed in differing directions, depending on various organisational and contextual factors.


Säkularismus; Religion in der öffentlichen Sphäre; Inklusion-Exklusion; Religion und Politik


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