Religious pluralism and organizational diversity: An empirical test in the city of Zwolle, the Netherlands, 1851-1914

Chr. Boone, A. Brouwer, J. Jacobs, A. van Witteloostuijn, M. de Zwaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study addresses the question as to why there are so many different kinds of organizations. It puts forth the general proposition that organizational diversity in a community is isomorphic to the heterogeneity of the composition of its population. Given that religion is a fundamental category of identity and association, with potentially far-reaching implications for social structure, we focus on religious pluralism. By linking religious pluralism to organizational diversity for the first time our study contributes to both the sociology of religion and organizational ecology. We propose that religious pluralism spurs organizational diversity, and vice versa. Specifically, denominational pluralism may drive community differentiation with respect to the supply of and demand for different products and services, which ultimately determines community-level organizational diversity. Second, organizational diversity might trigger immigration of people from specific religious denominations, so affecting the community's religious composition in turn. We empirically explore this reciprocal relationship with detailed time series data for the Dutch city of Zwolle in the 1851–1914 period. Our exploratory findings are consistent with our proposition. Avenues for further research are discussed in relationship with some of the limitations of our exploratory case study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-173
JournalSociology of Religion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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