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Social customs and demographic change: the case of godparenthood in Catholic Europe

Social customs and demographic change: the case of godparenthood in Catholic Europe
Social customs and demographic change: the case of godparenthood in Catholic Europe
This article analyzes social norms regulating the selection of godparents in Italy and France. Based on Vatican statistics and European Values Study responses, the vast majority of children in Catholic Europe are baptized and birth rituals are considered important even by nonbelievers. Moreover, the dominant custom of selecting godparents from among kinsmen is a recent development, based on historical data. A new survey about the selection of godparents in Italy and France, conducted for this study, shows that godparents are chosen not for religious, but for social-relational reasons. Selection of kinsmen is the norm, with uncles and aunts being the majority choice. For Italy, choice determinants are explored by means of multinomial regressions. The results are contrasted with demographic change to show that in lowest-low fertility countries current godparenthood models are bound to disappear.
Baptism, godparents, demographic change, social customs, spiritual kinship, social change
0021-8294
482-504
Alfani, Guido
5d21aaaa-6218-4151-bf98-05f736fda621
Gourdon, Vincent
52969a60-d418-4f22-bda5-c7eb20f036f7
Vitali, Agnese
56acb6b8-5161-4106-9e73-20712840d675
Alfani, Guido
5d21aaaa-6218-4151-bf98-05f736fda621
Gourdon, Vincent
52969a60-d418-4f22-bda5-c7eb20f036f7
Vitali, Agnese
56acb6b8-5161-4106-9e73-20712840d675

Alfani, Guido, Gourdon, Vincent and Vitali, Agnese (2012) Social customs and demographic change: the case of godparenthood in Catholic Europe. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51 (3), 482-504. (doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2012.01659.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article analyzes social norms regulating the selection of godparents in Italy and France. Based on Vatican statistics and European Values Study responses, the vast majority of children in Catholic Europe are baptized and birth rituals are considered important even by nonbelievers. Moreover, the dominant custom of selecting godparents from among kinsmen is a recent development, based on historical data. A new survey about the selection of godparents in Italy and France, conducted for this study, shows that godparents are chosen not for religious, but for social-relational reasons. Selection of kinsmen is the norm, with uncles and aunts being the majority choice. For Italy, choice determinants are explored by means of multinomial regressions. The results are contrasted with demographic change to show that in lowest-low fertility countries current godparenthood models are bound to disappear.

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Published date: 4 September 2012
Keywords: Baptism, godparents, demographic change, social customs, spiritual kinship, social change
Organisations: Social Statistics & Demography

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 358218
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/358218
ISSN: 0021-8294
PURE UUID: 134632b9-3975-44ca-ad1f-09636992f47f
ORCID for Agnese Vitali: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0029-9447

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Oct 2013 12:43
Last modified: 10 Sep 2019 00:35

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