This article examines trends in religiosity in Bosnia-Herzegovina from World War II to present day, with an emphasis on the period following the signing of the Dayton Agreement, in 1995. Several factors are examined to explain observed trends in secularization. These include the influence of communism, industrialization, the breakup of Yugoslavia and a rise in nationalist feelings, as well as the influence of the Balkan war of the 1990s. The sources of information are official state census data from the communist period (1950-1991) and data from the World Values Survey (1998-2001). The research shows that communism and industrialization led to the secularization of Bosnian society. However, the fall of communism and the war in the 1990s reversed this trend and contributed to a dramatic rise in religiosity. Furthermore, there is a strong relationship between religious identification and ethnic identity, making it difficult to distinguish genuine religiosity from nationalist sentiment. Due to the nature of the previously conducted surveys and the inconsistencies in questions asked, it is difficult to separate the influence of one factor from another. As a result, fieldwork based on interviews with religious leaders and scholars conducted in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the summer of 2008 is used to further explain observed trends.
This article by Ana Hacic-Vlahovic was published originally in Amsterdam Social Science Volume 1 Issue 1 (2008). Click here for the complete article.
Picture credit: Sam Walker