Who were the participants in VOTF, and whose voice did they represent? What were the sources and consequences of the Catholic identity they employed? VOTF’s demographic composition characterized the shape and path the movement took in mobilizing to change the church. This chapter explores the social, cultural, and demographic contexts of the movement and the ways in which these identity markers shaped VOTF’s positioning within the church. Notably, participants’ lived memories of the Second Vatican Council, experienced within the context of 1960s social change, played a key role in how movement participants envisioned their place as Catholics and constructed their attitudes toward the church.
Voice of the Faithful members, rather than being a random cross section of the United States’ 68 million Catholics, instead shared fairly high levels of similarity. Their demographic viewpoint can be likened to what the social theorist Pierre Bourdieu (1977) called habitus, or the cognitive structures individuals use to understand the social world. Habitus reflects distinctions based in social divisions such as generation, class, race, and gender. Shared habitus can emerge out of collective experiences, histories, and memories. Although this lens through which an individual views the world does not necessarily operate at a conscious level, it nonetheless manifests itself in the ways people engage in the activities of everyday life.
The habitus reflected by VOTF’s membership was predominantly older, white, highly educated, and middle- to upper-class. A national