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Religionization from the Bottom up: Religiosity Trends and Institutional Change Mechanisms in Israeli Public Services

  • Amos Zehavi (a1)

This study asks how religious change at the social level (as expressed in increased religiosity) influences the religious behavior of public organizations. The study's empirical foundation is three Israeli case studies that focus on the impact of growing religiosity in Israeli Jewish society on three large public institutions: the military, healthcare, and schools. Based on comparative analysis of the three case studies, it is shown that variation in the extent of religionization in public organizations is influenced primarily by the religious composition of workers and consumers of a specific public organization. The influence of political pressure from above, however, is marginal. In addition, this study demonstrates how organizational religionization is differentially mediated by institutional mechanisms/structures: institutional layering or conversion.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Amos Zehavi, Department of Political Science and Department of Public Policy, Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. E-mail:
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I am grateful to Noa Gani, Maya Kramer, Eden Vaknin, and Ido Yahel for their invaluable research assistance. I would also like to thank Asher Cohen for sharing his insights with me about religionization in the military. A previous iteration of this paper was presented at the Religion in Public Space and in the Public Sector panel at the American Political Science Association Annual Conference (San Francisco, September 3–6, 2015). I thank all participants for their useful comments.

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