Re-framing Religious Identity and Belief: Gen X Women and the Catholic Church


  • Tracy McEwan University of Newcastle, NSW
  • Kathleen McPhillips University of Newcastle, NSW



Catholic Church, Generation X, women and religion, feminist theology, Church membership


Gen X women grew up in the Catholic Church in the climate of culturaland theological change brought about by the Second Vatican Council.Given the Catholic Church’s attempt to move into the modern world, itmight be expected that such changes would result in an increase of participationby women in the Church. In fact, the opposite has happened andthe participation of Gen X Catholic women in Church life is at substantiallylow levels. This article reviews the current research in this area, and seeksto contextualise the experiences of Gen X women in the broader socialchanges that have characterised late modernity. It contends that currentmethods of examining the religious identity of Gen X Catholic women failto understand the complexity of reasons for non-participation. Shifting theresearch focus beyond a simple model of church participation will shedimportant light on the sociology of Catholicism and religious identity inAustralia.

Author Biographies

Tracy McEwan, University of Newcastle, NSW

Tracy McEwan is a PhD candidate in theology and sociology at the University of Newcastle. Her area of research is the religious identity and participation of Generation X (Gen X) women in the Australian Catholic Church. Tracy has a Master of Theology from The University of Newcastle which she completed in partnership with BBI-TAITE and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Mathematics) from the University of Technology Sydney. Tracy is currently working as a sessional tutor at BBI-TAITE.

Kathleen McPhillips, University of Newcastle, NSW

Dr Kathleen McPhillips is a sociologist of religion at the University of Newcastle and is vice-president of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion. Her area of expertise is religion and gender and she has extensive publications in this field. Recent publications appear in The Conversation (2016–17), Psychoanalytic Dialogues (vol. 27, 2017) and the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion (vol. 29.1, 2016). She is an international board member of Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and an associate editor at the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. More about her work can be found at


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How to Cite

McEwan, T., & McPhillips, K. (2018). Re-framing Religious Identity and Belief: Gen X Women and the Catholic Church. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 30(3), 205–226.




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