The aim of this study is to contribute to the understanding of how gender constructions have been shaped and renegotiated in the modern history of the Church of Sweden. This is achieved through the dissertation’s two general approaches, which are to account for the establishment and development of the Swedish lay movement called the Brethren of the Church (Kyrkobröderna) up until women were allowed membership in 1978, and to analyze the Brethren’s activities in relation to theories of gender, masculinity, and homosociality. By studying relevant source material – mainly consisting of the Brethren’s own journal as well as minutes, correspondence, and inquiries preserved in the association’s archives – the dissertation elucidates both ideals and practices among the Brethren during the period in question.
The Brethren’s work was divided between what they defined as two lines: an inner and an outer. It was primarily within the inner line that the brotherhood was to be promoted, while the efforts for the church and the realization of God’s kingdom took place along the outer line. The former consisted mainly of Bible studies among members of a separate corps, which the parish level organization was known as, and the latter comprised social work, public lectures, and similar activities. Both lines of work are relevant to analyze from a gender perspective. The Bible studies could be chaired by a minister from the parish in question or by one of the Brethren. Thus, laymen’s explication of Scripture was authorized, but this required that they were men. The same was true of preaching: even though it was not a prominent feature among the Brethren, they sometimes, as laymen, preached during services held in connection with the association’s gatherings. The work along the outer line was characterized by social work in the form of visiting the poor and elderly and organizing public events. The Brethren stressed that this work took place in the public sphere and that it demanded power of action in practical matters, and they thereby depicted the charitable mission, with its feminine connotations, as something in line with prevailing ideals of a hegemonic masculinity.
In order to analyze the gender order among the Brethren, theories on gender theories expounded by Raewyn Connell, Demetrakis Z. Demetriou, Michael Meuser, and others are applied. The Brethren’s depiction of themselves, of “other” men and masculinities, and of women and femininities, can be apprehended by using Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity and its development by other researchers. The theoretical framework emphasizes the importance of taking the social composition of the movement into consideration, since constructions of masculinity can never be demarcated from categories such as class and age. Since the Brethren was an all-male organization, the roles and functions of homosociality are also central to the analysis.
Central to the Brethren’s understanding of Christianity was the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Together with the clergy, the laymen were supposed to be responsible for the activities of the church, for example by studying and preaching the Word of God, being involved in and exercising influence over worship, and doing social work. Actively participating in church life in this way was an integral part in the Brethren’s understanding of themselves as Lutherans. In the capacity of an Evangelical Lutheran denomination, the Church of Sweden was, according to the Brethren, particularly manly, as it allowed laymen’s active participation, as opposed to the Roman Catholic Church, whose members were depicted as passive and subdued. In the Lutheran “layman’s church” (lekmannakyrka) – a concept which had its antithesis in the “priest’s church” (prästkyrka) – the laymen were ascribed a role of activity and responsibility, from which women were excluded. As a member of the priesthood of all believers, according to the Brethren, you were supposed to assist the clergy and in your everyday life act in the interest of the church; it was the layman’s “right and obligation to act in the service of the parish”, as Archbishop Nathan Söderblom (1866–1931), who was the first chairman of the association, phrased it. This, however, required an active (manly) disposition, and therefore the Brethren’s priesthood of all believers was rather a priesthood of all male believers, where the external hegemony in the church was upheld.
- Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap
- Jarlert, Anders, handledare
- Claesson, Urban, Biträdande handledare, Extern person
|Tilldelningsdatum||2019 nov 8|
|Tryckta ISBN||978-91-88909-24-4, 978-91-983171-7-6|
|Status||Published - 2019 sep 30|
Place: LUX C121
Name: Erik Sidenvall
Affiliation: Svenska kyrkan
- Svenska kyrkan