From Piety To Professionalism--And Back?

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Only in recent centuries have Catholic and Protestant women begun the practice of creating formal groups for the express purpose of operating schools, hospitals, and the like. Yet there is evidence that this period of active organizational involvement may already be coming to an end. The resulting effect of denominational groups losing their institutional identities has been greatly overlooked in past research. Patricia Wittberg aims to redress this omission in this noteworthy work. From Piety to Professionalism-and Back? argues that the dissolution of institutional ties has greatly affected denominations-especially specific denominational subgroups such as Catholic religious orders, Protestant deaconesses, and women's missionary societies-in profoundly important ways: shifting or obliterating their recruitment bases, altering the backgrounds and expectations of their leaders, and often causing fundamental transformations in the very identity and culture of the groups themselves. Using the theoretical lens of organizational sociology, Wittberg has created an important and engaging work that will appeal to scholars of sociology and religion.
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Editorial Reviews

Barbara E. Campbell
This carefully researched study compares the struggles and accomplishments of Catholic religious, Protestant deaconesses and women's missionary societies, and finds remarkable parallels which might even surprise them. The combined impact of these ministries is yet to be fully recognized or appreciated.
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Voluntary Sector Quarterly - Jo Anne Schneider
...From Piety to Professionalism...provides a rich, well-researched addition to the literature on the dynamic between faith communitites and their nonprofits... [Wittberg's] careful and extensive interweaving of history, secondary sources, other research, and her own work provides an outstanding example for other scholars to follow.
December 2008 Sociology of Religion
This is a particularly apt and thorough contribution to the literature on faith-based social outreach....This is a fascinating insider's account of what it is like to do noble work for the institution Church now, and increasingly, for its own sake.
Helen Rose Ebaugh
Rarely does a book apply cutting edge theory to real-life organizational challenges with the insights and power of this book. For readers interested in the rise and decline of organizations, it provides vivid case studies of organizations of religious virtuosos that defined the life of their denominations for a time only to face decline in the contemporary era. For those within these organizations who are struggling to chart their future, the book is 'must' reading.
December 2008 Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
This is a particularly apt and thorough contribution to the literature on faith-based social outreach....This is a fascinating insider's account of what it is like to do noble work for the institution Church now, and increasingly, for its own sake.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739113776
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Wittberg is Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Part I: Historical and Theoretical Overview Chapter 2 Introduction: A Statement of the Problem Chapter 3 Religious Institutions: A Historical and Ideological Survey Part 4 Part II: Impacts of Institutions Chapter 5 Organizational Identity Chapter 6 Effects on Recruitment Chapter 7 Effects on Power Part 8 Part III: Institutional Identity and Religious Withdrawl Chapter 9 The Attenuation of Religious Identity Chapter 10 Sponsors and Institutions: Changing Relationships Part 11 Part IV: Impacts on Sponsors Chapter 12 Impacts on Identity I: Purpose and Goal Chapter 13 Impacts on Identity II: Common Life and Culture Chapter 14 Impact on Activities: The Shift from Institutional Service Chapter 15 Impacts on Personal and Professional Development Chapter 16 Power Chapter 17 The Transformation of Religious Virtuosity Part 18 Appendix A: Research Methodology Chapter 19 Appendix B: Focus Group Formats

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