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Sécularisation, genre, sexualité. Des catholiques et des musulman.e.s en quête de sens (France, années 1970 - années 2010)

Abstract : The French religious and sexual landscapes share certain mutations that characterized a larger dynamic of secularization. They are structured not only by processes that diversify practices, multiply the available choices for action, and individualize norms, but also by the persistence of social frameworks that regulate behaviour. The state of religion in France is characterized by the Catholic faith’s loss of institutional influence and a reduction in church membership, a growing number of people stating no religious affiliation, and the specific position of Islam. The latter is a young, dynamic religion that is often understated and racialized in social space. These changes—and the differing histories of Catholicism and Islam in France—explain and interrogate the high public and media visibility of a religious fringe concerned with questions of gender and sexuality. To better understand these phenomena, the thesis examines the links between gender, sexuality and religion in France since the 1970s, on the basis of the sexual practice and representations of Catholics and Muslims. My analysis uses two types of material: three major population surveys on sexuality in France (1970, 1992, 2006) and one on conjugality (2013), together with biographical interviews with respondents who identify as Catholics and Muslims. The combination of these research materials provides a comparative perspective on the development of sexual behaviour among women and men according to their religiosity. The range of sexual behaviour among individuals, whether Catholic, Muslim or non-affiliated, is wide and diversified. Practices (first sexual experience, masturbation, pornography) are becoming more similar between Catholics and the non-affiliated, while Muslims’ sexuality is characterized by major gender differences and practices related to their minorized position in social space (such as men’s use of prostitutes). The perceptions of family and homosexuality fall into three major patterns, according to the respondents’ attachment to life as a couple, childbearing and heterosexuality. Religious commitment to some extent determines these positions, which are also situated within broader life stories and sexual experience. The thesis also demonstrates how women and men’s religious and sexual trajectories are connected on the basis of their life stories and place in power relationship (class, gender, race). In some cases, religion may be a resource (cultural, social or symbolic) for finding a partner and underplaying or reinforcing processes of social selection. The research interviews throw light on the ways in which respondents appropriate their religion, in what they say about it and about their behaviour, and the ways they subjectivate norms and (re)construct them in hindsight as they review their life experiences. The thesis offers new insight into the process of secularization in France. The sexuality of Catholics and Muslims provides an original view of the way men and women establish themselves as subjects. It sheds new light on the various forms of social normativity in a society where normative sources are multiple and non-hierarchical. Finally, it demonstrates that religion is only socially significant in a society structured by gender, class, race, and sexual inequalities.
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Marion Maudet. Sécularisation, genre, sexualité. Des catholiques et des musulman.e.s en quête de sens (France, années 1970 - années 2010). Sciences de l'Homme et Société. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 2019. Français. ⟨tel-02869645⟩

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