Power Relations Influencing Catholic Religious Sisters’ Identity Construction: A Study of Intersubjective Exchange in Religious Community Living

C Eze, GC Lindegger, S Rakoczy


Catholic religious sisters live community life in which they encounter communal relationship with each other, intertwined with power relations and dominance. The religious community context provides the sisters with on-going dialogical relationships laden with the discourse of religious obedience and practices associated with diverse status of being ‘superior/formator’, ‘senior/older sister’, ‘final professed’ or ‘temporary professed sister’. Within this discourse and practice of the vow of religious obedience, superiors/formators and senior/older sisters hold the power to instruct others on what to do. Thus, each of these statuses influences the sisters’ voices whereby some voices dominate others. Using 18 sisters’ self-narratives (based on a doctoral thesis) collected from two religious congregations in Nigeria this paper argues that the dominated voices negotiate their sense of identity either as resistant or submissive. Based on the I-positions dynamism of appropriation or rejection of positions, these sisters negotiate their self-identity either by subjugating their own voice, in which case they allow their voice to be silent or by presenting themselves as resistant, in that they oppose the voices that position them into subordinate or subservient roles. As a consequence the sisters’ construction of identity manifests itself in tension, in which the polar opposite status of superior/formator, and final professed sister dominates the voice of other sisters.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v4i5.1526


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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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