Collective Rituals and Nation-Building: A Youth Camp Experiment in India

The recent global rise of far-right majoritarianism has fueled policy interest in
promoting intergroup cohesion in divided societies. We plan to experimentally test whether
participation in collective, secular rituals can help foster harmonious relations between
religious groups, and, in doing so, advance national integration. Specifically, we will randomly
assign Hindu and Muslim male youths to attend one of two types of holiday activities camps,
or a pure control group, in West Bengal, India. One camp will focus on providing civic
education, along with games and films; the other will additionally incorporate a battery of
ritualized elements – including synchronized singing, dancing, and flag-raising – which
classic work in sociology suggests should foster social solidarity. We will gather endline
outcomes on attitudes toward religious outgroups, political ideology, democratic values, and
moral universalism.

RFP Cycle:
Fall 2022
  • Pilot project