This introductory chapter provides an overview of the relationship between welfare and religion. The relationship between welfare and religion, as it developed during the 20th century, was shaped during the formative ‘golden years’ following 1945. Welfare became part of a modernity in which the relationship between religion and societal institutions—such as school, health, and social care—was weakening rapidly or in some cases had ceased to exist. Studies of different welfare regimes have revealed, however, that their roots lie in contrasting political, social and religious circumstances. These circumstances function as a historically based ‘glue’ that helps to explain the subtle values that connect religion and welfare within these different systems. The chapter then presents the project Welfare and Values in Europe: Transitions Related to Religion, Minorities and Gender (WaVE), which formed the background to the project featured in this volume.
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