Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of this study is to explore how individuals come to embrace the FM spirituality as radical, making the spiritually meaningful and plausible for social change through a communitarian lifestyle that affects their everyday life. Within the sociological tradition of studying religion and social movements, this study addresses how religiously-motivated, "non-elite" individuals can be collectively recruited and mobilized into life-long agents of change. My study is based on seventy-five interviews and fieldwork at three sites in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

In the dissertation, I addressed the following research questions: 1. If a member is defined as one who practices the spirituality of unity, how and why does one join the Focolare Movement; 2. How is the laity empowered to frame, interpret, and carry out institutional change-oriented/ innovative projects (in this case the spirituality of unity) in the spirit of Vatican II while at the same time affirming the Church's hierarchical structure? 3. How does the community model serve the interest of a religious social movement such as the FM and how is the community responsive to the spiritual needs of religious individuals?; 4. How and why is the spirituality of unity meaningful to its members in the course of their everyday lives; and 5. How is the FM spirituality response to theodicy and how does this response relate to the movement goals of the FM?

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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