"Theoretical background and objectives
The increased and sustained presence of Muslim immigrants has led states and governments in Europe and elsewhere to re-negotiate the accommodation of religious minorities. Many of these processes of negotiation of cultural and religious rights have taken place in public institutions but only some of these institutions such as schools have received broad public and political as well as scientific attention. The current research project tries to broaden this perspective by directing attention to the military as a public institution that has not only a special relationship with the state and the nation, but also fulfils a very specific task and constitutes a ""total institution"" (Goffman 1961).
The central research question addressed by this project is how to explain differences but also commonalities in the ways military services across Europe and the United States accommodate religious minorities? The existing literature on Muslim accommodation mainly suggests two lines of argumentation: 1) country-specific opportunity structures shaped by national configurations of citizenship and immigrant integration or by national forms of religious governance are decisive for differences in minority accommodation, 2) minority-specific forms of accommodation that are determined by each minority's capacity to mobilise explain differences in accommodation. The current project seeks to add a third theoretical approach arguing that institution-specific opportunity structures are decisive factors for different forms of accommodation (cf. Michalowski 2015 in RSS).
The objective of this research is to first of all deliver a descriptive analysis of the accommodation of religious minorities in the military services of five European countries and the US. The descriptive analysis also includes typical conflicts that arise with the inclusion of Islam as well as the solutions proposed by the different armed forces. In a second step, the project formulates hypotheses about how to explain the different types of accommodation. Special emphasis will be placed on the discussion of the different levels of influence: national models and ideological precepts of state-religion relationship, organization-specific arguments and finally the collective action of individual actors on the ground.
Research design, data and methodology
Given the fact that access to military data is limited by nature, the project recurs to expert interviews carried out in all countries of comparison. The data collected through these expert interviews relates first of all to the organisation of the military chaplaincy, the position of the established (Christian) churches and the chances for newcomers to send chaplains to the military. Second, it focuses on individual religious rights that are granted to soldiers such as religious apparel, religious dietary restrictions, time to pray and religious holidays. Third, the interviews focus on conflicts that arise with regard to the accommodation of religion and religious minorities in the respective national military services as well as on ways to resolve these conflicts."