The Salience of Culture
The culture of VOTF, closely shaped by the culture of the Catholic Church, mattered substantially for the discourse, form, and tactics that the movement employed. While scholars of social movements have emphasized the important role of structure in shaping movement action, IISMs (and especially religious ones) require that we be more attuned to the important role that culture plays in shaping a movement and its outcomes. Seen in this way, religion emerges as not only a source of resources, including potential members, finances, and leadership, but also, significantly, as a cultural code for movement behavior. It is within the intrainstitutional context of the church that “distinctions made by individual social actors are translated into social boundaries” and “where classification systems are anchored and infused with material consequences” (Armstrong and Bernstein 2008:83). The meaning system of the institution, so integral to the identity of movement participants, becomes embedded in the movement itself. VOTF’s Catholic culture, in tandem with its desire to manifest a Catholic identity, was consequential for the shape of the movement as a whole.
The cultural code of Catholicism provided a map for VOTF participants with which to navigate as they sought to make changes within the institution of the Catholic Church. In drawing from the “cultural toolkit” (Swidler 1986) of the Catholic Church, VOTF shared tools with the very authority figures they contested. Behavioral