Research in Sociology of Religion

Over the past several decades, Catalonia has undergone significant ethnic and religious diversification as a consequence of rising levels of international immigration. Integrating religious minorities, and accommodating their spiritual and culture needs, has been a major priority of state agencies and civil society organizations. A key strategy to facilitate this process has been to work with “cultural brokers,” or individuals who possess the requisite cultural and linguistic skills to serve as a bridge between their respective religious communities, on the one hand, and broader social and political institutions, on the other. By assuming the role of cultural broker, these individuals often become community leaders and representatives, albeit through unconventional pathways that do not necessarily involve formal religious training. This project examines the personal backgrounds, trajectories, and motivations of those who come to fulfill the role of cultural brokers in the religious sphere in Catalonia. We focus our analysis on cultural brokers affiliated with Filipino, Muslim, and Sikh communities in Barcelona and its surrounding area. Our findings illuminate the types of social and cultural capital that enable specific individuals to become cultural brokers in the religious domain, as well as the manner in which acting as cultural brokers facilitates the accumulation of different types of capital. The project examines brokerage as a substantive and functional activity that may be subdivided into five main areas: 1) administration / organization; 2) conflict resolution; 3) representation; 4) socialization / integration; and 5) transnationalism. Although these areas may be distinguished analytically, they commonly overlap in practice. Finally, our project identifies several of the challenges concerning matters of brokerage faced by both religious communities and public institutions. We focus in particular on questions of legitimacy and trust, both of which are essential for brokerage to function smoothly in the religious realm.