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Abstract

The ‘milieu’ concept, first introduced to German history during the 1960s, experienced a revival during the last twenty years. It became especially influential as a model for modern German Catholic social history. Scholarship based on this notion of an insular religious subculture deserves much praise for its analysis of how Catholics remained relevant as a minority in a modernizing country and for shedding new light on the relationship between Catholicism and National Socialism. However, future work on the Catholic community in Germany requires greater methodological flexibility. The purposes of this article are to review the recent historiography of the German Catholic milieu after World War I, discuss existing critiques of this literature, and suggest ways to better integrate cultural and gender history into narratives about twentieth-century German Catholicism.