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

Catholic Mediations in Southern Europe

The Invisible Politics of Religion, 1st Edition

By Xabier Itçaina


292 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-11-16
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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.


"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.

Table of Contents


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

About the Author

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.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Religion and Politics

This series aims to publish high quality works on the topic of the resurgence of political forms of religion in both national and international contexts. This trend has been especially noticeable in the post-cold war era (that is, since the late 1980s). It has affected all the ‘world religions’ (including, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) in various parts of the world (such as, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa).

The series welcomes books that use a variety of approaches to the subject, drawing on scholarship from political science, international relations, security studies, and contemporary history.

Books in the series explore these religions, regions and topics both within and beyond the conventional domain of ‘church-state’ relations to include the impact of religion on politics, conflict and development, including the late Samuel Huntington’s controversial – yet influential – thesis about ‘clashing civilisations’.

In sum, the overall purpose of the book series is to provide a comprehensive survey of what is currently happening in relation to the interaction of religion and politics, both domestically and internationally, in relation to a variety of issues.

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