|Religious, Civic, and Interpersonal Social Networks: Catholic Sisters’ Congregations’ Ministries to Migrant Women|
This research examines social networks among catholic women’s religious congregations engaged in citizenship, education, employment, healthcare, literacy, and other ministries to one of the most disadvantaged, underserved populations in the world today: immigrant women and children and their families.Social networks are defined by such variables such as embeddedness (extent an organization is entrenched in other organizations), centrality (extent networks converge in an organization), lines of communication, formal and informal linkages among personnel, and interconnections through other resources. To date, however, social network research has had limited application to the study of some organizations, including those serving the most marginal members of society and particularly those like Catholic women’s congregations.
My project examines Catholic women’s religious orders in both various American (e.g., upper Midwest) and Italian (e.g., Rome) settings. These settings permit consideration of the effects of broader social contexts (domestic or transnational, civic or religious) which shape both formal and informal networks and contribute to perceptions of and actual organizational dynamics.
I continue to interview individuals who represent three groups:
The third group includes clergy and other community leaders, professionals in community organizations, and sociologists and other social scientists. From these three groups of informants I seek their knowledge in three areas:
This research has been approved by the University of St. Thomas Institutional Review Board and I adhere to the ethical codes of conduct for the American Sociological Association and the National Council of Family Relations, including provisions for confidentiality and informed consent. While I expect this research to find a ready outlet in sociology, I am strongly committed to sharing the results of my research with women’s congregations and other civic and religious organizations that serve migrants.