By Kevin McQuillan
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Extra resources for Culture, Religion, and Demographic Behaviour: Catholics and Lutherans in Alsace
The challenge for demographers, then, is to understand how culture shapes the demographic responses of individuals to the demands and limitations placed on them by the environment in which they live out their lives. The second issue of general importance concerns the relationship between churches and other institutions in society. As was the case with values, religious and non-religious institutions may reinforce one another or be at odds. This issue is critical to this study because the relationship between church and state in Alsace, and indeed throughout much of Europe, changed dramatically during this period.
The nobility had also benefitted from the policies of the Crown and had no history of involvement in efforts to weaken the monarchy (Marx 1970). Nevertheless, as the Revolution progressed, Alsace, even more than most other regions, was transformed. The revolutionary drive to centralize and harmonize administrative procedures across the country had far-reaching effects on a province that had retained a special status. Following the historic division between Upper and Lower Alsace, the region was divided 19 Alsace: Economic and Social Structures into two departements, the Bas-Rhin with Strasbourg as its administrative centre, and the Haut-Rhin with Colmar as its chef-lieu.
The size and structure of rural communities made supervision relatively easy, and local officials did not hesitate to use their power to discipline violators. But participation was not limited to a traditional Sunday service. Churches created a host of traditions and institutions - holidays, processions, organizations of the laity (Chatellier 1989) - that insured exposure to religious influences. Through such practices as the blessing of crops and prayers for good weather, the churches encouraged their followers to view the material world through a religious filter (Hufton 1979).