Ordaining Women : Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations


This Vol applies a sociological perspective to a historical, comparative analysis of the practice of female ordination in various US religious denominations, drawing on quantitative event-history analysis of 100 of the largest Christian denominations, supplemented by primary & secondary qualitative data. Focus is on formal church policy regarding this relatively new practice. In 1970, the US Census revealed that only 3% of clergy were women, whereas by the late 1990s, 50% of the ordinations in some denominations were of women. Drawing on the "new institutionalist" approach to organizational change, it is argued that denominational policy regarding ordination often fails to be reflected in practice. Similarly, formal rules & external pressures often persuade religious organizations to ordain women clergy in conflict with internal institutional demands or doctrines; this causes the organization to "decouple" practices from principles. Some policies ordain women technically, but deny them full clergy rights, eg, to conduct services or administer sacraments; it is argued that such practices perpetuate gender inequality, despite voicing "equal but complementary" positions. Specific environmental, normative, & identity issues shaping the meaning of female ordination are described, along with organizational factors at both the inter- & intradenominational level that influence whether a religious organization will ordain women sooner, later, or not at all. The book contains 8 Chpts with Notes. 6 Tables, 3 Figures, 255 References. K. Hyatt Stewart

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chaves, M

Published Date

  • 1997

Start / End Page

  • x+237 - x+237

Published By

Place of Publication

  • Cambridge, Mass

International Standard Book Number 10 (ISBN-10)

  • 0674641469

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780674641457