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Dr. Jens Köhrsen (in CIRRuS between 2007 and 2013)


Fields of Activity:
Field research on religious conversion in Argentina, Pentecostalism, religious pluralization and individualization

Research Interests:
General sociology of religion, secularization debate and religion in the modern era, theory of society, organizational sociology and economic theory


"Religious Taste - Explaining religious choices by the concept of religious taste", CIRRuS Working Papers, No.4, 2008

"How religious is the public sphere? - A critical stance on the debate about public religion and post-secularity.", Acta Sociologica 55 (3), p. 273-288.

"Paradigm Change in the Face of the World Financial Crisis? - A Comparative Study of the Economic Policy Debates during three economic slumps in Germany", Revue D?Économie Politique (Review of Political Economy) 124 (3), p. 269-290.

"Religiöse Geschmäcker und Stile als Distinktionsmittel in der argentinischen Pfingstbewegung", in: Vielfalt und Zusammenhalt - Konferenzband der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie, 2014.

"Religion ohne Religion? Säkularisierung als Ausbreitungsprozess funktionaler Äquivalente zur Religion", in: Theologische Zeitschrift 70 (3), p. 231-253.


Magister in sociology, philosophy and Protestant theology (from 1999 to 2006), University of Oldenburg

Diplom in social sciences (from 2001-2007), University of Oldenburg

Doctoral Studies in sociology (since 2007) at the International Graduate School in Sociology (IGSS)/Bielefeld International Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS)

Membership in Academic Organizations:

Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR)

Denkräume e.V.


Religious Tastes and Styles among Middle Class Pentecostals in Argentina

The project explored middle class Pentecostalism in Argentina. A religious movement that has spread predominantly within Latin America?s lower classes, Pentecostalism has so far been studied mainly as a lower class religion, whereas its relationship to the middle class has been barely investigated. Endeavoring to fill this void, the project has posed the following questions: How does the middle class relate to Pentecostalism? What form of Pentecostalism do middle class Pentecostals create? The project addressed these questions based on empirical research on the Pentecostal movement in and around Buenos Aires, Argentina. The research entailed observations in numerous Pentecostal churches ? lower and middle class churches ? as well as in-depth interviews with pastors and lay members of the movement. In a dialogue between sociological theory and the empirical results, a theoretical approach to middle class Pentecostalism was developed. This approach suggests that Pentecostalism stands to some degree in tension with the social representations of the middle class. The middle class, imagined as modern, rational, and civilized, draws symbolic boundaries in opposition to the lower class and its culture, often perceived as superstitious, emotional, and uncivilized. Considered a lower class movement showing ?inappropriate? characteristics such as speaking in tongues, Pentecostalism does not fit well with the representations of the middle class. It appears as an inappropriate religious practice. When affiliated with this movement, middle class actors overstep to some degree the symbolic boundaries of the middle class and may, in consequence, suffer social tensions with their peers. This raises the question of how these individuals deal with the inappropriateness of their religious belonging. Middle class Pentecostals employ symbolic boundary work to negotiate the (in)appropriateness of their religious belonging. By displaying distinctive tastes and styles of Pentecostalism, they draw symbolic boundaries in opposition to the ?inappropriate? attributes of Pentecostalism. This boundary work helps lessen and disguise this inappropriateness, and leads to a milder and socially more acceptable form of Pentecostalism. The new, middle class style abstains from the expressiveness, emotionality, and strong spiritual practices that have marked Pentecostalism so far and instead places an emphasis on personal development and pro-active involvement in the society. Increasingly turning into a middle class movement, this style may become prominent in global Pentecostalism.


The research project was embedded in a co-doctoral scheme (co-tutelle) between the University of Bielefeld (Bielefeld/Germany) and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris/France).

The project was conducted with the financial support of the German Student Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes), the German-Franco University (Université franco-allemande), the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology, and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.

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