The Couples for Christ: Suborganizational Framing and Sociopolitical Mobilization in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Doctoral Dissertation


The dramatic growth of the Catholic Charismatic movement over the past forty years has occasioned numerous studies on its distinct characteristics as a new religious movement. In terms of social involvement, however, many extant studies on Pentecostalism in general and the Charismatic movement in particular have characterized its adherents as politically conservative or socially inward looking. This dissertation uses as a case study one Charismatic organization that goes against the grain of these trendsÌÄå¢Ì¢åâåÂÌ¢åÛåthe Couples for Christ (CFC) in the PhilippinesÌÄå¢Ì¢åâåÂÌ¢åÛåto understand how it has successfully mobilized its membership for political advocacy and socioeconomic outreach activities.

The study begins by understanding how dominant frameworks for understanding contentious mobilizationÌÄå¢Ì¢åâåÂÌ¢åÛåin particular, the political process modelÌÄå¢Ì¢åâåÂÌ¢åÛåare inadequate for understanding altruistic, religiously motivated mass action. Instead, the study proposes that religious mobilization begins with a distinct worldview embodying both the tenets of faith and its consistency with societal engagement. Drawing from Weber’s ideas on the “routinization of charisma,” I propose in the study that the worldview of a religious organization is institutionalized through a process of “suborganizational framing” (Clemens 1997, 1996, 1993) which combines elements of traditional framing literature (e.g. Benford and Snow 2000) with more organizationally inclined analyses of social movements (e.g. Klandermans 1992). I hypothesize that the specific worldview of the CFC initiates the process of “suborganizational frame alignment” wherein interpretative frames and specific suborganizational forms are deployed strategically in response to various socioeconomic and political challenges. “Suborganizational frame alignment measures” are also utilized to cognitively inculcate worldview elements upon organization adherents, leading to favorable judgments of the interpretative frames and suborganizational forms presented for their consideration.

I present findings in my examination of three specific time periods within the CFC’s development in its first twenty five years: the formative stage (1981-1993), the expansion into more diverse family ministries (1993-2000), and the adoption of wide-scale social ministries and forays into partisan political involvement (2000 onwards). Using content analysis of organizational documents and other archival sources, key informant interviews, as well as participant observation in key CFC activities, I monitor how the transformation of worldview expressions, interpretative frames, and suborganizational forms lead to “suborganizational frame resonance,” i.e. individual participation in organizational mobilization initiatives. I conclude with theoretical recommendations on the utility of suborganizational framing as an analytical tool for understanding religiously motivated mobilization.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-09052008-110049

Author Roberto E.N. Rivera
Advisor Kevin J. Christiano
Contributor Kevin J. Christiano, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2008-08-25

Submission Date 2008-09-05
  • United States of America

  • religion

  • organizations

  • pentecostalism

  • social movements

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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