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Patriarchal Bargains and Latent Avenues of Social Mobility: Nuns in the Roman Catholic Church

Helen Rose Ebaugh
Gender and Society
Vol. 7, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 400-414
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/189800
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Patriarchal Bargains and Latent Avenues of Social Mobility: Nuns in the Roman Catholic Church
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Abstract

Despite the classic patriarchy of the Roman Catholic church, American Catholic nuns entered into patriarchal bargains that latently gained them access to resources and status within the system. By means of educational advancement and professional careers, encouraged by the male hierarchy as necessary to performing the works of the church, nuns gained both informal power in the system and an awareness of their disadvantaged position. This article analyzes the shifts that have occurred in these bargains during the past 40 years in terms of the submerged networks of feminist consciousness that have existed in Catholic convents for decades. The article concludes with a description of the current crisis occurring within religious orders as they experience a decline in membership and rapidly increasing median ages of members.

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