Religious practice in a post-Catholic Ireland: Towards a concept of ‘extra-institutional religion’

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This article develops the concept of ‘extra-institutional religion’ to describe how some religiously committed individuals practise religion in a ‘post-Catholic’ Ireland. Rooted in an island-wide study, it describes extra-institutional religion as the practice of religion outside or in addition to the Catholic Church, Ireland’s historically dominant religious institution. As a new concept, extra-institutional religion provides an alternative to the theoretical emphasis on religious individualisation advocated by sociologists of religion and general theorists like Ulrich Beck. It builds on the concepts of British sociologists of religion Grace Davie (‘believing without belonging’ and ‘vicarious religion’) and Abby Day (‘believing in belonging’ and ‘performative religion’). It argues that extra-institutional religion may have application outside Ireland in the mixed religious markets of Europe. Extra-institutional religion also may contribute to wider change by balancing its two structural strengths: its position on the margins, and its continued links with institutional religion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-487
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion
Issue number4
Early online date17 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2019


  • Ireland
  • secularisation
  • Extra-Institutional Religion
  • individualisation
  • religious markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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