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The Church, Social Consciousness, and Protest?

Comparative Political Studies
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
  • Economics
  • Political Science


This article examines the relationship between participation in the Catholic Church and the consciousness and protest behavior of the most strategic sector of the Peruvian labor force. It explores two ideal models of church influence: traditional and liberation. Although Liberation Theology has some of its deepest roots in the writings and practice of Peruvian priests, the association between participation in church ritual in general in Peru and the consciousness and behavior of workers suggests that the overall influence of the Peruvian Church is best described by the traditional model. Participation in Church ritual and its associated religiosity increase fatalism, retards concientizacion, reduces protest participation, and integrates workers into the hierarchy and discipline of the industrial enterprise. The article agrees with Gramsci (1971) that the control of consciousness is as significant an area of political struggle as the control of production, and that the two are related. Through its influence on social consciousness, the church can indirectly affect political action and national patterns of production and distribution. Church acculturation may affect economic growth rate by reducing worker-management and worker-state conflict. It seems equally likely that the conservative effect of church acculturation increases distributional inequality.

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