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Sacred Places, Domestic Spaces: Material Culture, Church, and Home at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Brigitta


Correspondence should be addressed to Mary Ellen Konieczny, Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame, 815 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame IN 46556. E-mail:


The relationship between the material culture of public worship and congregants' homes is explored in a study of two Catholic parishes—theologically liberal St. Brigitta and conservative Our Lady of Assumption. At St. Brigitta, congregants' worship space is almost devoid of religious art and ritual objects are plain, but worshippers' homes are rich in decorative objects. By contrast, masses at Our Lady of the Assumption take place in a church filled with devotional art and ornate objects, but worshippers' homes are spare, neutrally furnished, and display few decorations. Distinct congregational logics surrounding the making of the self help to explain the material culture differences: St. Brigitta parishioners value individualized self-expression whereas Assumption's members subordinate individuality to family and church identities. Individuals use material objects not only for self-expression, but also to explicitly shape identities and make the self.

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