Individualisation theory has mainly focused on the deregulation of religion and dissolution of traditional majority churches, but there is less evidence of its appropriateness for religious minorities. In this paper I contribute to this debate by analysing how Jews in Spain construct their Jewish sense of belonging in the context of a diverse, traditionally Catholic society. My main argument is that Jews, as a small and invisible minority, confronted by the exigencies of a secular and plural context, combine notions of religious choice and ethnic ascription in narrating their individual and collective identities. Consequently, while the theory of individualisation partly accounts for this identity construction, the specificities of the context and the minority condition require additional conceptual tools about collective identities and symbolic boundaries.
In this piece, I revisit my work in Urban Secularism by addressing the main critical points raised by five generous critics. These concern issues about the theoretical framing of the book, its methodological design and implementation as well as points concerning the findings of the book and some aspects that would have required more attention, such as the relevance of the far-right, race and class in urban secular politics. In the last section of this piece, I take on the invitation of two of the commentators to explore new questions that arise from their reading of the book.
The increasing vitality and variety of religious identities in Europe give rise to new claims and demands by religious minorities. This generates new challenges for the articulation of the religious and the secular in European democracies, which become especially salient in public institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and schools. This special issue focuses on public institutions with the aim to examine how state and religion encounter one another in contemporary Western societies. We take public institutions as privileged observatories for understanding the changing place of religion but also as laboratories in which new arrangements are experimented. The articles analyse the presence, regulation, and negotiation of religion and religious diversity in public institutions across Europe combining innovative empirical enquiries with theoretical and methodological reflections.
This article analyses the roles of Catholic chaplains amidst secularisation and diversification in Spain. Instead of focussing on highly politicised and controversial issues, we examine lower-profile negotiations taking place in secular public institutions. With this micro-sociological approach, we move the analysis beyond the official stand of the national Catholic hierarchy and examine everyday interactions and negotiations between front-line Catholic actors, civil servants, and religious minorities’ leaders who share—and compete for—time, space, and material and symbolic resources in public hospitals and prisons. We argue that rather than resisting the changes strenuously, Catholic chaplains strategically re-define and diversify their roles by taking advantage of contextual opportunities, institutional factors, and organisational inertia. This attitude, which diverges from the more confrontational stance of the hierarchy in the public sphere, allows them to adapt to the environment and maintain their position and relevance within these institutions.