Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion. Volume 5 (2014)

Sociology and Monasticism. Between Innovation and Tradition


In contrast with the growing belief in society that traditional religious institutions are losing credibility, there has been renewed interest in monasteries going beyond what is strictly defined as religious. There are, for example, increasingly numerous requests for cooking and gardening courses as well as guided tours in monasteries, the appeal of monastic products and media interest in the subject. In parallel with a strong crisis in its recruitment, monasticism in the Western world is experiencing a period of innovation and experiments accompanied by unexpected popularity, as is evidenced by numerous films and publications. We hope that this book will deepen the understanding of the specificity of monastic life in the in the contemporary world, in a religious area, and from a sociological point of view.

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Isabelle Jonveaux, Ph.D. (1983) is post-doc fellow at the University of Graz (Austria) and associated member of the CEIFR Paris. She has published monographs and articles about monasticism, including Le monastère au travail (Bayard 2011) and Dieu en ligne (Bayard 2013).

Stefania Palmisano is Lecturer in the Sociology of Organization at the University of Turin, Italy, where she teaches the Sociology of Religious Organizations. She is Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion in Lancaster University (UK). She also has been Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology in Boston University (USA). At the moment she is doing research on new monasticism and its relationship with monastic tradition.

Enzo Pace, Professor of sociology of religion at the University of Padua (Italy), Visiting professor at the Ecole des hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Past-President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion. Recent book: "Religion as Communication", (Ashgate 2011).

Contributors include: Salvatore Abbruzzese, Giovanni Dalpiaz, Laurent Denizeau, Francesca Sbardella, Danièle Hervieu-Léger, Kees de Groot, Jos Pieper, Willem Putamn, Maria Hämmerli, Anna Poujeau, Timon Reichl, Caroline Starkey, Florence Galmiche, Maria Chiara Giorda, Javier Gonzàles Dìez, Sara Hejazi, Paul-André Turcotte, and Jean Séguy.
"This reader is an interesting document, with a specific focus on the widespread but underestimated social phenomenon of prayer, and the role it may play in different societies. The volume contributes to a broader empirical and theoretical understanding of prayer in a societal context." – Wim Vandewiele, University of Leuven / University of Antwerp / IKKS, in: Journal of Empirical Theology 28 (2015), 150-151

List of Contributors

Introduction: The State of the Art in the Sociology of Monasticism xiii

Part 1: Catholic Monasticism

1 Monastic Asceticism and Everyday Life - Salvatore Abbruzzese

2 Virtuosity, “Folklorisation” and Cultural Protest: Monasticism as a Laboratory of the Confrontation between Christianity and Modernity - Danièle Hervieu-Léger

3 Female Monasticism in Italy: A Sociological Investigation - Giovanni Dalpiaz

4 Ethnography of Cloistered Life: Field Work into Silence - Francesca Sbardella

5 Redefinition of the Role of Monks in Modern Society: Economy as Monastic Opportunity - Isabelle Jonveaux

6 An Innovative Return to Tradition: Catholic Monasticism Redux - Stefania Palmisano

7 New Spirituality in Old Monasteries? - Kees De Groot, Jos Pieper and Willem Putman

Part 2: Ex Oriente lux: Other forms of Monasticism

8 Athos Outside of Athos: Orthodox Monasticism in the West - Laurent Denizeau

9 Spiritual Direction in Orthodox Monasticism: The Elder Beyond Weber’s Theory of Charisma - Maria Hämmerli

10 A National Monasticism? Monastic Politics of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Syria - Anna Poujeau

11 Contemplative Spirituality and the Intermonastic Encounter Movement - Timon Reichl

12 Experiencing the Liminal: Understanding Separation and Transition among Buddhist Monastic Women in Contemporary Britain - Caroline Starkey

13 A Space of Mountains within a Forest of Buildings? Urban Buddhist Monasteries in Contemporary Korea - Florence Galmiche

Part 3 Methodology and Classical Authors of the Sociology of Monasticism

14 Studying Contemporary Monasticism in Italy: An Anthropological and Historical Perspective - Maria Chiara Giorda, Javier González Díez, Sara Hejazi

15 Monasticism and Society in Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch - Paul-André Turcotte

16 Séguy and the Monastic Utopia - Enzo Pace

17 A Sociology of Imagined Societies: Monasticism and Utopia - Jean Séguy

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