Catherine Maignant Review of Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland: ‘indispensable reading’

I have just become aware of Catherine Maignant’s review of my latest book, Transforming Post-Catholic Irelandpublished in 2016 in the French-language academic journal, Etudes Irlandaises (Irish Studies).

Maignant is Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Lille.

Using an (admittedly imperfect) online translation tool, I reproduce part of Maignant’s review (available in full here):

The conclusions of the book can be summed up as follows: the Catholic Church, which has been overwhelmingly rejected, particularly because of the recent scandals with which it is associated, remains the reference institution both in the North and in the South. The trends identified by Ganiel confirm the analyzes of her predecessors at the level of the Western world: individualization and deinstitutionalization are the key words. Personal fulfillment results from the release of barriers and participation in both social and religious initiatives. The sectarianism in all its forms remains however latent and the term of ecumenism is little understood, even controversial, at least in its definition. The proof, finally, is not about the ability of “extra-institutional” groups to change institutions and society from the periphery, even if they have the potential. The fragmentation and low critical mass of these organizations limit the scope of their action.

Ganiel’s book is quite interesting. It has the merit of making readers discover little-known religious or para-religious groups that contribute to pluralism, the integration of ethnic minorities and the evolution of identity in Ireland. She also situates her analysis within the larger framework of theoretical and conceptual debates on the sociology of religions, without ever departing from the political and social concerns of Ireland, both in the North and the South. The ambition of the work is considerable and the book unfortunately very short to account for the obvious wealth of data accumulated. The notions of “extra-institutional” religion and “post-Catholic” Ireland also remain somewhat debatable in some aspects, especially as the author’s commitment to ecumenical action is claimed. Nevertheless, the originality, the richness and the thematic orientation of Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland makes it an indispensable reading for anyone interested in the religious developments of contemporary Ireland.

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