New Faith, New Family

Contadini, Pentecostalism, and the Struggle for Social Identity in the New World


  • Paul J. Palma Regent University



Contadini, mass migration, social psychology, Catholicism, Pentecostalism


During the mass migration of 1870-1920, the peasantry of southern Italy flooded the urban centres of America. Accustomed to a rural-agrarian lifestyle and steeped in traditional religious beliefs, contadini (Italian peasants) found themselves isolated in the industrial centres of America. Separation from kin and the faith of their ancestors contributed to a psychological void that led contadini to seek new forms of Christianityfor religious fulfilment. This article explores the social psychology of the contadini during the mass migration. It examines the historico-cultural conditions that drove peasants from Catholicism, the mental and emotional dimensions of being in tension with their new environment, and the suitability of other faith contexts, particularly Pentecostalism, to mitigate the experience of isolation.

Author Biography

Paul J. Palma, Regent University

Paul Joseph Palma PhD is adjunct professor of biblical studies and Christian ministry at Regent University. His research focuses on global Pentecostal-Charismatic movements. Paul has written extensively, including a number of articles and a recently completed dissertation, on the history and theology of the Italian Pentecostal movement.


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How to Cite

Palma, P. (2018). New Faith, New Family: Contadini, Pentecostalism, and the Struggle for Social Identity in the New World. PentecoStudies, 17(2), 116–133.