Women and religious organization

A “microbiological” approach to influence

Authored by: Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:


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This paper uses the analogy of microbiological systems in the human body to argue that vertical structures of power are not the only systematic power at work within religious communities. The case study of Mormon women shows how even in highly hierarchical, centralized, patriarchal religious movements, the formal structures of power coexist alongside and even depend on other less immediately visible, but nevertheless powerful, systems within the religious community. This paper draws on a range of disciplinary perspectives to make the case that cultural, relational, and ontological systems within global Mormonism are areas within which women shape their own experiences and the experiences of others within their faith tradition.

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