Christopher W. Hale, “Religious Institutions and Collective Action: The Catholic Church and Political Activism in Indigenous Chiapas and Yucatán.” Journal Article

Christopher W. Hale (University of Alabama)

Politics and Religion (June 27, 2017)


Why do religious organizations facilitate secular political activism in some settings but not others? I contend that where religious institutions are characterized by decentralized local governance, they are more likely to facilitate political activism. Drawing on nine months of field research and 60 interviews, I conduct a qualitative comparison between the Mexican states of Chiapas and Yucatán. I argue Chiapas exhibits highly decentralized governance by the Catholic Church whereas Yucatán exhibits centralized clerical management. This difference accounts for why Chiapas experiences high levels of indigenous political activism while Yucatán experiences very little political activism.