Implications of Lived and Packaged Religions for Intercultural Dialogue to Reduce Conflict and Terror


  • Gary D Bouma AM Monash University, Australia



religious diversity, intercultural dialogue, religion and terrorism, conflict reduction, Westphalian settlement


The use of intercultural dialogue (ICD) to promote intergroup understanding and respect is considered as a key to reduce tensions and the likelihood of conflict. This paper argues that understanding the differences among religions – those between packaged and lived religion – enhances the chances of success and makes the effort more challenging. Religions contained and packaged are found in formally
organised expressions of religion – churches, denominations, synagogues, mosques, temples and so on. For packaged religions, religious identity is singular and adherents are expected to identify with only one religion and are assumed to accept the whole package of that religion. ICD in this context involves communicating with religious groups such as organisations and encouraging different leaders to speak with each other resulting in platforms filled with ‘heads of faith’ – bishops, muftis, ayatollahs, chief rabbis, swamis and so on. In contrast, lived religions involve ritual practices engaged in by individuals and small groups, creation of shrines and sacred spaces, discussing the nature of life, sharing ethical concerns, going on pilgrimages and taking actions to celebrate and sustain hope. There is some evidence that, although packaged religions are declining, lived religions continue at persistent levels. Violent extremism is more likely to be associated with lived rather than packaged forms of religion, making a more balanced intercultural competences approach to ICD critical to countering conflict.1

1 This article is a revised version of Gary D Bouma (2017) ‘Religions – lived and packaged – viewed through an intercultural dialogue prism’ in Fethi Mansouri (ed) Interculturalism at the Crossroads: Comparative perspectives on concepts, policies and practice, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, France, pp. 129–144.

Author Biography

Gary D Bouma AM, Monash University, Australia

Gary D Bouma AM is the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Monash University, the Australian node of the Religion and Diversity Project, University of Ottawa. The writing of this paper was supported in part by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP160102367 and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (of Canada) funded Religion and Diversity Project.


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How to Cite

Bouma, Gary D. 2021. “Implications of Lived and Packaged Religions for Intercultural Dialogue to Reduce Conflict and Terror”. Journal of Citizenship and Globalisation Studies 2 (1):1-10.