Catholic Mediations in Southern Europe : The Invisible Politics of Religion book cover
1st Edition

Catholic Mediations in Southern Europe
The Invisible Politics of Religion

ISBN 9780367583019
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
312 Pages

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Book Description

Investigating the role played by religious actors in sociopolitical issues as a manifestation of the invisible politics of religion, this book concentrates on the social economy, support to migrants, the fight against social exclusion and pacifist campaigns, where religious actors have played discreet but structuring roles.

In the European context, politico-religious matters have been reduced in two ways: first, a reduction of identity with religion being transformed into a heritage in the form of a minimal sense of belonging; and second, the media focus on the most fundamentalist currents within all religions. This book responds by proposing an alternative perspective with a focus on Southern European Catholicism and a comparison between Italian, Spanish and French subnational territories. In a period of polarized relations between religion and politics, there is a Catholic action repertoire which avoids this binary confrontation and which, in contrast, is characterized by its mediating dimension. The Catholic mediation repertoire receives little publicity and is expressed in a discreet but structuring way to address different public problems.

An important contribution to the literature, this book will interest scholars and upper-level students working on religion and politics, mediation and peace studies, local policy making and comparative approaches to Southern European society and politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Chapter 1 - The politics of Catholic mediations: analytical framework. Chapter 2 - Norms, rules and practices: the cornerstones of a Catholic plural mediation. Chapter 3 - The entrepreneurial repertoire: between moralizing capitalism and solidarity alternatives. Chapter 4 - The repertoire of subsidiarity: The social and political work of Catholic actors in response to the economic crisis. Chapter 5 - The repertoire of hospitality: Catholic mobilizations and politicizations of the migration issue. Chapter 6 - The repertoire of peace: Catholic mediation and violent political conflict. Conclusion - The invisible politics of religion.

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Xabier Itçaina is a CNRS Research Director in political sociology at Sciences po Bordeaux (France), and director of the Centre Emile Durkheim (UMR5116 CNRS, Sciences Po Bordeaux, University of Bordeaux). He was a Marie Curie Fellow at the European University in Florence in 2012-2013. His research is concerned with three areas: Catholicism and politics in Southern Europe; social economy and territorial development in Southern Europe; the political anthropology of territorial identities.


"This innovative and interesting book offers a new perspective on Catholicism and politics in Southern Europe, using a comparative sociology, especially via its focus on the discreet mediation role played by some Catholic actors and on the internal pluralism of the Roman Catholic Church." - Joxerramon Bengoetxea, University of the Basque Country.

"Among the huge academic literature it has inspired there is actually and paradoxically little research on the Catholic church, and even less on its grass roots social influence. Through in-depth field work in Italy, in the north and south of the Basque country and in Aquitaine, Xabier Itçaina sheds new light on the contemporary silent resilience of Catholic social networks. This book is an original and must needed tool for re-assessing the role of the Catholic Church in Europe." - Olivier Roy, European University Institute.

"Contributing to the (growing but still limited) field of study on the interaction between politics and religion, this important book singles out an important and unexplored topic in the less dramatic expressions of the impact of religious actors within modern societies. Going beyond rational choice approaches as well as the consideration of religion as irrational, Xabier Itcaina convincingly develops a very nuanced analysis of religion as embedded in complex institutional fields, with areas of overlapping with institutional actors but also with social movements. The cross-national and sub-national comparison of various forms of Catholicism allows investigating in depth the norms of religious practices." - Donatella della Porta, Scuola normale superiore.