Old-Fashioned, Hypocritical, and Frustrated?

Special Report: Conservative Movements
How Activists in Catholic Family Associations Respond to Criticisms
By Sophie Rétif

In this paper, I discuss the findings of a research project focusing on two Catholic families’ associations, in both France and Portugal. I analyze the symbolic strategies developed by these organizations to challenge the common negative representations of conservative Catholics (reluctance to embrace modernity, hypocrisy, frustration, etc.). These negative representations can represent an obstacle for their claims to be heard, and can also hamper the recruitment of new members. The associations under study try to avoid these problems by developing a set of strategies, including the selection of their representatives, the way they formulate their demands or their chosen modes of operation. I argue that the analysis of these strategies is very helpful to understand forms of activism and the organisation of work within the associations.

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