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Ageing nuns : congregational strategies and the paradox of secularism

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Anchisi Annick, Amiotte-Suchet Laurent, Toffel Kevin,
Project Le prix de la coutume. Communautés religieuses, vieillesse et évolution de la prise en charge de soins.
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Social Compass (Multilingua)
Page(s) 3 - 18
Title of proceedings Social Compass (Multilingua)
DOI 10.1177/0037768615613892

Open Access


In Switzerland and in France, religious communities are ageing. With the growing age infirmities, the customary support of the eldest nuns by younger sisters is therefore no longer feasible. This article is based on a sociological study that analyses the transformation of Catholic convents into nursing homes for the elderly in Switzerland and France. The findings highlight the differences in how each country mediates between congregations and the state, as well as inequalities in the treatment of elderly nuns. Given the need for state recognition to benefit from state pensions and a marked preference for spending their last years at home, nuns are innovating in an attempt to re-appropriate their future – for however long it may last.