Denominations as Dual Structures: An Organizational Analysis


Journal Article

The central thesis of this article is that denominations are composed of two parallel structures overlying congregations: a religious authority structure and an agency structure. This article elaborates the notion of religious authority structure, provides a brief overview of agency structure origins, and sociologically distinguishes the two structures. Placing denominational dual structure at the center of organizational analysis: (a) leads to a heretofore elusive sociological definition of religious organizations; (b) reveals the horizontal rather than vertical nature of intradenominational power shifts, thereby challenging the common (mis)perception that congregations are increasingly beholden to agencies; (c) highlights both the largely ignored role of agencies and the often overlooked top-down component in intradenominational conflict and schism; and (d) makes it easier to conceptualize and investigate processes of internal secularization. This approach to denominational organization is in line with a recent development in the sociology of organizations in which organizational subunits rather than organizational wholes occupy the center of attention. © 1993, Association for the Sociology of Religion.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chaves, M

Published Date

  • January 1, 1993

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 54 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 147 - 169

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1069-4404

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/3712137

Citation Source

  • Scopus