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Conflicts around Gender in Pluralizing Religious Fields: the case of contemporary French Synagogues

Abstract : Two conflicting trends have developed within French Judaism since the 1970s, making gender into a growingly salient issue: on the one hand a trend towards a stricter separation between men and women, and on the other hand, a trend towards increased female ritual participation in synagogues. This paper argues that both trends are part of the same movement towards intra-religious pluralization within a religious field (in the Bourdieusian sense). Whereas French Judaism has been highly centralized for an exceptionally long time, moments and sites of religious conflict around gender have coincided with moments of internal pluralization. The centrality of the traditional mainstream organization for Judaism (the Consistory) has successively been challenged, first by independent and more “Orthodox” synagogues, then by newly emerging Reform and massorti synagogues, and more recently by calls for a French “Modern Orthodoxy”. In these three cases, gender has been used as “a primary way of signifying relationships of power” (Scott), whether, respectively, by promoting increased separation between men and women, by promoting mixed seating and female ritual equality, or by arguing for both separate seating and female participation to ritual. The recent history of gender conflicts in French synagogues thus illustrates how religious conflicts around gender, far from being a constant, coincide with phases of autonomization (in the Bourdieusian sense of the term), transnationalization and differentiation in religious fields.
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Contributor : Béatrice de Gasquet <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 12:33:16 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 6:50:39 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02277026, version 1


Béatrice de Gasquet. Conflicts around Gender in Pluralizing Religious Fields: the case of contemporary French Synagogues. The politics of religion and spirituality, International Society for the Study of Religion (ISSR), Jul 2019, Barcelona, Spain. ⟨halshs-02277026⟩



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