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The Making of Working-Class Religion$
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Matthew Pehl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040429

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040429.001.0001

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The Contours of Religious Consciousness in Working-Class Detroit, 1910–1935

The Contours of Religious Consciousness in Working-Class Detroit, 1910–1935

(p.15) 1. The Contours of Religious Consciousness in Working-Class Detroit, 1910–1935
The Making of Working-Class Religion

Matthew Pehl

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses religious consciousness in working-class Detroit. Working peoples' religious consciousness emerged out of a complex, ambiguous, sometimes paradoxical worldview. Scrutinizing religious consciousness offers insight into workers' attitudes and beliefs on a wide number of important subjects with both moral and political implications: why people were made to work, what it meant to be a man or a woman, how ethnic peoplehood was defined, what was right and what was wrong, how to live a good life, and what a person could expect from human existence. Indeed, working-class religions created a complex set of idioms and practices for mediating the ambivalences of industrial life. Despite the significant differences separating immigrant Catholics and migrant African American workers, both Catholics and African Americans made a religious consciousness that forged a sense of tradition and peoplehood, while simultaneously providing a source of richness and meaning for individual lives.

Keywords:   religious consciousness, working-class Detroit, ethnic peoplehood, human existence, working-class religions, industrial life, Catholics, African Americans

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