Political Catholicism and Euroscepticism: the deviant case of Poland in a comparative perspective

Napieralski, Bartosz (2015) Political Catholicism and Euroscepticism: the deviant case of Poland in a comparative perspective. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The main aim of this thesis is to add to the understanding of how religion interacts with
politics in modern Europe. It discusses the largely under-researched relationship between
Euroscepticism and religion and argues that despite the theory of secularisation, which
assumes an ever-increasing marginalisation of the role of religion in the public sphere,
religious beliefs still play an important role in the world of politics.

This study firstly analyses the phenomenon of political Catholicism, providing a concise
definition and identifying the primary and secondary features of this movement. Secondly,
it discusses how, under certain circumstances, political Catholicism, which in general is a
movement that strongly supported European integration, can adopt a Eurosceptic stance.

Empirically, this study focuses on the case of Poland, but places the results in the context
of 15 other European countries. It analyses primary data gathered through documentary
research (party manifestos, public statements, Church documents) and a number of
interviews with party members. Additional information was collected from interviews with
journalists, an expert survey and secondary literature in the field of EU studies and religion
and politics.

The key argument of this thesis is that Polish political Catholicism is a distinct
phenomenon in Europe because of its markedly visible Euroscepticism. Its opposition to
Europe stems from an intrinsic feature of the movement, namely its Catholic-nationalist
nature. This attribute developed as a result of Polish history, characterised by long periods
of struggle for independence from alien forces, whereby belonging to Catholicism gradually
became an essential element of belonging to the Polish nation, helping to define the ‘Us’
vs. the ‘Other’. Consequently, Polish political Catholicism started perceiving the EU as an
organisation based on ‘alien’, secular values, which could endanger Polish national identity,
Polish society and ultimately the state.

In broader terms, this study contributes to the general discussion on the causality of party-based
Euroscepticism. It also provides a comparative outlook on political Catholicism in
Europe, arguing that there is a gap between Western and Central and Eastern European
strands of this movement, resulting mainly from different historical circumstances in which
the movement developed in both regions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN6750 Poland
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2015 11:57
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 12:29
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/57523

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