Portugal - MYPLACE



Portugal - MYPLACE
31st January 2014
MYPLACE (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy And Civic Engagement)
Grant agreement no: FP7-266831
WP7: Interpreting Activism (Ethnographies)
Deliverable 7.1: Ethnographic Case Studies of Youth Activism
Catholic Labour youth
Field researcher(s)
Data analysts
Work Package
Dissemination level
WP Leaders
Deliverable Date
Document history
Version Date
Ana Alexandre
Ana Alexandre
Ana Alexandre
7 Interpreting Activism (Ethnographies)
7.1 Ethnographic Case Studies of Youth Activism
PU [Public]
Hilary Pilkington, Phil Mizen
31 January 2014
Edited draft
Comments to author
Final version
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David Cairns
Hilary Pilkington
Hilary Pilkington
31st January 2014
1. Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 3
2. Methods............................................................................................................................... 4
3. Key Findings ......................................................................................................................... 6
3.1 Catholic Labour Youth: how the movement emerged ....................................................... 6
3.2 The JOC in Portugal ............................................................................................................ 6
3.3 Mission, Organisation and Methodology of the JOC ......................................................... 7
3.4 Characteristics of the JOC: a brief analysis ........................................................................ 8
3.5 The JOC in Portuguese Society ......................................................................................... 15
3.6 The magazine of the JOC - JO .......................................................................................... 16
3.7 The JOC by Jocistas .......................................................................................................... 17
4. Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 23
5. Future analysis ................................................................................................................... 24
6. References ......................................................................................................................... 24
7. Appendix: Table 1. Socio-demographic profile of interviewees ....................................... 27
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1. Introduction
This report is based on the Catholic Labour Youth, a form of Catholic youth association, and
forms part of WP7 Cluster 6 ‘Faith based organisations’. Historically, this movement is defined
as an explicitly Catholic movement, which follows what it terms a ‘life review method’, centring
on the principles of ‘see, judge, act’, and on training for action. The Catholic Labour Youth
(Juventude Operária Católica or JOC1) itself is a movement for young people aged between 14
and 30 years old and has an evangelizing mission. This seeks to guide each young person
towards a life free, conscious and responsible, so that he or she can find their place in the world
and in the Church, that then takes up an active role in society and the Church.
Portugal as a country is predominantly Catholic: 81 per cent of the Portuguese population is
Catholic according to the most recent census (INE 2011). From the late nineteenth century and
through the twentieth century, Catholicism was characterized by a vitality expressed in
associative dynamics which aimed for the formation and organisation of its members in order
to act in civil society as if it were a field of Catholic militancy. This involved a pastoral response
that resulted in the constitution of Portuguese Catholic Action and the intervention of its
special organisations in accordance with the social environment and the dominant professions
of the era: agrarian, at school, independent, among workers and university students. To Fontes
(1994), as in many other countries, the institutionalization of Catholic Action was one of the
main instruments of the church to act against the totalitarian temptations of the modern state
as well as being the principal form of mobilization and organisation of Catholics in the Christian
restoration project in Portuguese society. In this apostolate, two sectors were the focus of
particular attention for the church - the working class and youth – leading to various efforts and
initiatives. This included new forms of association with a religious character, included explicitly
Catholic circles of workers and of the youth (Fontes 1994: 76).
The Catholic labour movement solidified in the early 1930s, building first on the experiences of
Catholic Trade Unions and then becoming a Catholic action movement; the main difference was
that the Unions were more oriented around workers’ economic demands rather than their
social condition. There is, however, continuity in respect to the idea that workers’ social issues
will be resolved within the working class itself as opposed by other classes (Rezola 1994: 104).
The Portuguese labour and trade union movement therefore has a long history, influenced by
the social thought of the Catholic Church and Catholic activists, who particularly from the 1960s
onwards, made a progressive interpretation of the Church’s social doctrine and made concrete
interventions into labour relations, work organisation and the trade unions (Nunes et al. 2011).
There were many organisations involved in this process. According to Barreto (1994), the
League of Catholic Workers (LOC), the Catholic Labour Youth (JOC), the Catholic University
Youth (JUC) and Catholic Agrarian Youth (JAC) were, under the Salazar regime, some of the
most prominent seedbeds for social activists and leaders who, at times, went to work in the
The acronym JOC referring to the Portuguese name for the Catholic Labour Youth is used to refer to the group
hereafter. The term ‘jocista’ is used also to refer to young people who belong to this movement.
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trade unions, cooperatives and initiatives of various kinds, and who, sometimes, were able to
influence power structures more directly. This made an undeniable contribution to a change in
attitudes and opened the way for social transformations in the policies of the 1960s and 1970s
in Portugal.
The JOC and LOC were also related to movements of Christian workers from Belgium and
France, which received support including training. The Portuguese Catholic organisations were
inspired largely by the experience and philosophy of these movements, especially by Belgian
social Catholicism, with emphasis on the priest Joseph Cardijn, the founder, in 1924, of the first
JOC in Brussels (Barreto 1994: 302). Almeida (2008) emphasises that the leaders of the JUC and
JOC played an important role in resistance to the New State; Catholic activists were involved in
the democratization of Portuguese society, raising awareness of social problems and the need
for civic intervention, encouraging people to participate in elections and local assemblies, and
to mix with people of different political sensitivities.
To Fonseca (2002), it is in small groups, whether formally called movements or not, that
community experience is realised. The success of movements in the Church is due in large part
to the specificity of their methodologies, called ‘Life Review’, in its three moments: ‘See, Judge
and Act’. One of the most interesting features of the movements is that they are a space for the
deepening of faith, not only from the point of view of concrete experience, but also its
intellectual understanding. From Catholic faith might emerge diverse political and ideological
commitments, either right or left leaning, since no church movement has the will to impose a
single ideological mode (Fonseca 2002: 75-7). To some extent, groups encourage the church
first, and then interpersonal relations (Duque 2007: 178). Fernandes (2007: 155) however
emphasises that the Church facilitates the actions of young people in civil society and the
actions initiated by civil society organisations in a pastoral manner, thus generating a reciprocal
The purpose of this study is to analyse the Catholic Labour Youth as a movement linked to the
Catholic Church, specifically in respect to its role and its activities as a youth movement. In what
follows, the means through which the organisation engages with young people will be
elaborated upon, alongside subjective accounts of what belonging to the movement means to
these young people.
2. Methods
The ethnographic method for collecting data and information was suited to this case study as it
prioritises the elicitation of how individuals understand the social processes in which they are
involved. After first contact with the National Secretariat of the JOC to request collaboration in
the project, which received a positive response, a first meeting was arranged. At this first
meeting were present elements of the national secretariat and the national assistant, and
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included a presentation about the movement detailing its characteristics and activities
undertaken. This led to the establishment of a plan of observation.
The observations were made between June 2012 and July 2013. Over this period, in total, 14
interviews were conducted with national coordinators, young people who belong to the
national secretariat and with the national assistant. This ‘sample’ thus included both young
people who at an initial stage of involvement in the movement and those with a more longterm active role. In addition, the sample was diverse in socio-demographic terms:2 interviewees
were aged between 21 and 32 years old; eight were female and five male; nine were ‘white’
and four ‘black’. There were also differences in terms of education level: some interviewees
had completed university; others had only secondary level education; a further group were still
in either university or secondary education. In terms of employment, there were interviewees
who were working full-time and others studying, as well as one person studying and working
part-time and another only working part-time. All were single and no interviewees had children.
Observation of external and internal activities was made at national and local levels, including
coverage of participation in the European campaign DIGNITY in Porto in June 2012 and at the
May Day celebrations of 2013 in Lisbon. The former action was the culmination of two years of
work campaigning and raising awareness of the importance of fighting for dignity. In respect to
internal activities, there was participation in a national camp and, at local level, a camp
organised by the diocese of Lisbon, as well as observation of the meetings of a group of activists
in the diocese of Lisbon. ‘And you, have time?’ was the slogan that marked National Youth
Week - the national camp which took place between 25 and 29 July 2012, in which young
people were led to question their priorities based on the time that they allocate to many
aspects in their lives. This included, for example, on the 26 July, observation of a group
reflection activity about the time (hours) used for diverse activities each day/week and about
the causes and consequences. ‘The family is...’ was the phrase that each of the young people of
the diocese of Lisbon had to complete in the camp that met on 9-10 March 2013. Further
meetings were observed as held by a group of activists in the Lisbon diocese that accepted the
presence of the researcher. In total, six meetings were observed between October 2012 and
March 2013. These meetings were of a group of three activists, composed of two males and
one female, who meet once a week. The meetings took for around 3-4 hours and always
included a time of prayer, reflection and sharing.
In this study, field diaries, notes and photographs of observed activities were important
materials. The interviews were coded in Nvivo and documents published in the JOC page were
also analysed, with special attention given to communiqués with other organisations, the
positions adopted by of the JOC and press releases about everyday circumstances in
contemporary Portugal. A publication of the JOC, JO magazine, from June 2012 to November
2013, was also analysed.
See appendix I - Table of socio-demographic the interviewees of JOC.
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From the first contact with the JOC, the first meeting and all the activities in which the
researcher participated were marked by sympathy, informality and availability from all young
people in the movement. The researcher not only observed but also participated in the
activities noted above. Even participation in the meetings of a group of activists, where the
presence of the researcher could have created some constraints due to this being a space for
sharing and reflection, she was always well received, without feeling that she was interfering in
the course of meetings.
3. Key Findings
3.1 Catholic Labour Youth: how the movement emerged
The JOC was founded in Belgium in 1925 on the initiative of a young priest, Joseph Cardijn, and
a group of young workers. It was started in response to the situation of suffering and
exploitation experienced by young workers and the need for the Church to understand the
situation and respond. The liberation of youth workers and to be a witness to the liberating
presence of Jesus and the project of Jesus Christ among the working class is the double mission
which was, and continues to constitute, the aim of JOC.
The expansion of the JOC in many countries helped foster the realisation that the life of every
young worker has an international dimension. In 1957 the International JOC was constituted
formally to coordinate and promote the JOC in the world. The CIJOC (International Coordination
of the JOC) was officially constituted in 1987, the year it was recognised by the Vatican. The
CIJOC is comprised of various national movements of JOCs that believe in the exchange and
comparison of experiences.
3.2 The JOC in Portugal
The JOC emerged in Portugal in 1935. The action of the JOC has spread rapidly and quickly
constituted itself as the only youth movement of the Portuguese Church until the Second
Vatican Council. This is known, in fact, as a golden period, involving and organising thousands of
young workers, priests and the religious. In Portugal during the dictatorship, the JOC was
almost the only space for awareness and civic education of youth in the labour environment.
With the revolution of 25 April 1974 and the beginning of a democratic society, there emerged
numerous other forms of organisation, which many of the activists of the JOC have joined. The
political, ideological, cultural and economic contradictions experienced strongly in Portuguese
society were also reflected in the Church, and in particular, the JOC. This led to a certain
amount of distrust among many in the Church that ultimately led to the removal of the Catholic
Action Movement and the JOC from the Church at the Portuguese Episcopal Conference in
1979. For several years, the JOC survived through the efforts of its members and some priests,
and passed through some difficult times. However, in 1986, the Portuguese Episcopal
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Conference indicated it had renewed confidence in the JOC and the Statute of Catholic Action
allowed for a re-integration to take place.
The present reality of the JOC is substantially different in terms of its size compared to the past,
but not in terms of its institutional capacity or the loyalty of its members; this is driven by many
factors both internal to the movement itself and society, but also related to the Church (JOC
1999a: 12-13). Currently the JOC operates in eight dioceses (Braga, Porto Aveiro, Coimbra,
Leiria-Fátima, Santarém, Lisboa and Setúbal). Some dioceses are organised, i.e. have their own
activists, and work independently, while other dioceses are still growing:
We are about 200 young people, who work closely, more continuously (...) We now
have everything, we have the young initiates who are mostly students, some have
gone to university already, some students are workers too, and we have activist
students too, more university students (...) And more workers(…) we have students
who are still in 9th grade, in the 10th grade, there are cases where they are still in
7th grade (...) and then we have activists already working, many in a precarious
situation and unemployed, but that is the reality that we face unfortunately (...)
There are some dioceses that may have more females, but overall, I think, it is
balanced. (Reported speech from field diary - 1st meeting with the National
Secretariat, 22 May 2012)
3.3 Mission, Organisation and Methodology of the JOC
The JOC has an educational focus and envisages jocistas, first of all, as becoming ‘themselves’,
acquiring new convictions and new attitudes, while acting with other young people in their
environment. For the JOC, to educate is to help the young to be socially conscientious, able to
organise their own life in a free, conscious and responsible way. As Cardijn stated: ‘We do not
make the revolution, we are the revolution!’
Bodies of JOC include: activist teams; teams of young people in the process of initiation;
regional teams; diocesan teams; the national assembly; the national team; and the national
secretariat. A team of activists is the basic cell of the JOC on which is built the organisation and
structure of the movement; in the JOC, there are no activists without a group. The diocesan
team is the representative body and coordinator of the movement in the diocese. The National
Assembly is the highest coordinating body for the movement, constituting the national team,
which includes one delegate from each team of activists and one element of that team and the
diocesan teams. The national team is the coordinating body at national level, constituted by the
National Secretariat, or diocesan coordinators. The National Secretariat is the executive organ
of the national team, and consists of at least three members (President, Secretary and
Treasurer). The Assistants have roles in the movement of sacramental, prophetic and pastoral
ministry, promotion of ecclesial communion and team, to ensure that the apostolic activity of
the movement is included in the whole of the life and mission of the Church.
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They consider that they have an active method, and that inside the JOC young people are
oriented towards studying all the problems that relate to their age, future and environment,
and to find a solution to these problems. ‘See, Judge, Act,’ as established by Cardijn is the basic
method of the JOC, that they seek to apply it to all aspects of the lives of young workers.
So we have a very unique method which is the method of Catholic Action. That is
the life review, which is divided into 3 stages: see, judge and act. When someone at
a meeting is having problems at work or school, for example, then the group can do
a life review on that question, which may be related to their studies or problems
with teachers or violence, anything. The important thing is to engage with that
reality, the specified situation, and we try understand the causes, the
consequences, our behaviours, how we react, how not to react and then enters the
judge, which is the Catholic movement, we look at the testimony that we have,
Jesus Christ, and try to perceive what the social doctrine of the Church and other
documents have to say, Cardijn who is our founder, we find other documents
relevant to that reality and try to perceive, analyse it, judge it but through our own
values, then we have the last step which is the act, which is when we see reality, we
understand the values that we follow and what we do - act. The act should normally
always have two levels, a personal and another group, what we defend is that the
world can only be changed after we change ourselves, we cannot demand that the
world change if we do not change. (Reported speech from field diary - 1st meeting
with the National Secretariat, 22 May 2012)
The JOC hold meetings for training, colloquiums, action campaigns on specific issues, seminars,
meetings, camps, exchanges, celebrations and other activities. They participate in initiatives
with other organisations and movements that promote justice and human dignity. This ranges
from small groups of friends from school, work, neighbourhood, church, and then meet weekly
to share the events of the day-to-day, preoccupations, problems, joys and anxieties.
Concerning the participation of young people in the JOC there are two forms: firstly, initiation
into a group, a process that lasts between two and three years; secondly, after this time, these
young people decide if they want to move on to activism. This is a new stage with more
responsibility and commitment to the movement, but as stated upon, movement between
levels has be the result of a young person’s own decision, thus guaranteeing a freedom among
members (JOC 1999b: 15).
3.4 Characteristics of the JOC: a brief analysis
The JOC is constituted, organised and directed by young people themselves: among them, for
them and for them. It is aimed at those aged 14 to 30 years old and it is these young people
who constitute the movement: who organise, decide on the direction orientations, conduct
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dissemination and spreading the word to other young people and engage in the activities and
interventions in different youth-life situations (JOC 1999d: 21).
Reflection, sharing, conviviality, fun, and prayer are all part of the JOC activities that young
people interviewed mentioned as standing out during camps. This is reflected in the comments
by Sara and Andrew below:
(…) the camps are also a way of attracting young people themselves because
obviously we all like camping and recreational activities and it is often also a way for
us to get to know young people and they have an opportunity to do a life review,
and perhaps many them have their first contact with the church, with prayer, with a
dimension the group, and we all think it's an important activity. (Sara)
(...) the fact that we came, young people who did not know each other at all, and
we started immediately to pitch the tents at the campsite and started talking to the
people and began to form a connection too is great, because we were there and
what united us was the movement, was the JOC, and we began immediately to
share things with other young people who we did not know, and started to create
links with these same people and this camp which was three days, three or four
days, and there was a night we were watching the stars and these small steps that
we have, that we call cultural night, which is where we are a little more at ease,
after the reflection and everything, we’re a little more comfortable and this is
where we also changed our life much more and our concerns and also make great
friendships, and from there, then we’ll always remember. (André)
The events of the camp were also documented in field dairy reports, which provided insight on
what went on:
‘And you, have time?’ was the slogan that marked the national camp in 2012, day
26 - Stage of the ‘See’:3 they conducted a group reflection activity about the time
they take doing various activities each day or week and about the causes and
consequences. This was presented in plenary. During the afternoon the young
people participated in the workshops they had signed up for, such as sports, dance
(world and African dance), how to make a CV, recycling, body expression, among
others. (...) You have fun at the pool (...) And after dinner the cultural evening full of
fun moments. (Field diary, June 26, 2012)
In terms of impact, as one young man who participated in this camp noted, he had,
‘learned to value my time and not waste it on unimportant things. To see friends and
make new friends, see different viewpoints and realities’ (JOC, 2012c: 11).
‘See’, meaning to observe, being one of the three principles of the JOC: ‘see, judge, act’.
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source: www.jocportugal.com
Plate 1: National Camp 2012
The family has a central role in the lives of young people. ‘The family is...’ was the phrase that
the youth of the diocese of Lisbon were asked to complete at camp, ‘in the end we found an
answer: The family is the love that is revealed in the actions of each one of us’ (JOC, 2013d: 10).
The stage of the ‘see’ consisted in the young people reflecting on their relationship with the
family; the most positive and the most negative aspects and how the young relate to the family.
In my group, the young people stressed the existence of love in the family, help,
understanding, caring, friendship, union, that trust exists, the importance of
dialogue, communication. Negative aspects referred to in the discussions were the
separation of families, members who are far away. Concerning young people and
family, one of the main problems mentioned in society today is the lack of dialogue.
(...) They also indicated that sometimes families pass on taking a role in schools and
that this leads to problems in parents passing on their values, and to youth being
left without values, going down a road that leads nowhere. (Field diary, March 9,
2013 - stage of ‘see’)
In the JOC, young people learn to analyse reality and thus understand situations of
dependence, the insecurity and exploitation of young workers, find the causes and
consequences, their attitude in these situations and what each one is called to do. Cardijn
stated ‘each young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world’ (JOC 1999b: 6-9). This
phrase was used by jocistas in commemoration of the 1 May, International Workers' Day. The
day of Saint Joseph the worker is also an important day for the JOC, as mentioned by some
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It is an important day of discovery on the workers’ side, fighting for the rights of the
people. (Sara)
The 1st May is a day of festivity and celebration of rights won and the verification
that united workers have strength and ability to change the world. (Mario)
The JOC is also active in the actual May Day marches in Portugal as well, as covered in the
course of the ethnographic research.
The day began with training on youth emigration, in which a teacher addressed the
reality of migration in Portugal and questioned young people about the possibility
of emigration. Most young people said they were not thinking of emigrating, a
young woman said that she believed that Portugal had potential, but another young
person said that for the first time in her life it was an option. (...) After a shared
lunch, they prepared the posters for the demonstration (...) In the course of the
parade, the youth of the JOC were placed after the Interjovem group,4 and during
the demonstration they were always very active, with slogans, (Field diary, 1 May
Photos: Ana Alexandre
Plate 2 and 3 – Celebration of 1 May2013
Campaigns have been prominent in JOC since early years in Belgium with Cardijn, and have had
an important place in the activities of the movement. The campaign in the JOC is a dynamic and
continuous process of action and reflection tackling a problem or a youth situation and seeking
to enable young people to become more aware of the situation in which they live and to act
towards a transformation at personal and communal levels and its living environment. The
They participated in the demonstration organised by the CGTP (General Confederation of Portuguese Workers National Inter-syndical) after the Interjovem group, the young wing of the Confederation.
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campaign is a way to focus activist action along the same line for all jocistas at a particular
moment in time (JOC 1999e).5
Maria emphasises the importance of the action finalization of these campaigns, and its
connection to wider society:
I always remember with great joy the meetings to conclude the campaigns because
the campaigns, we worked for 1-2 years on national campaigns, and then later tried
to end with a period of reflection, and try to not let it stay inside the movement but
open it up to society. (Maria)
The conclusion of the European level DIGNITY campaign took place in two cities in Portugal Braga and Porto - and involved street actions for the purpose of showing the work done over
the two year campaign and to raise awareness and the importance of fighting for dignity.
They had posters, a banner on the floor for people passing in the street on which to
write a message. Addressing the people, they gave a brief explanation of the JOC
and the activity and asked people to leave a message on the floor. They screamed
messages of dignity at work. They took several photographs with the letters of the
word ‘dignity’ in which they asked people passing on the street to participate in,
each holding a letter. (...) One of the young people from JOC left a message that
reflects their concern with dignity: I am young, looking for a 1st. job. I studied in
Higher Education for 6 years. I do not know if I'll have any decent work, with any fair
wage, schedules that let me build any family and live with dignity. Where do you
live, DIGNITY?? (Field diary, 23 June 2012, Porto)
The next National Campaign, due to start in January 2014, focuses on the reality of unemployment.
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source: www.jocportugal.com
Plate 4 – Action of finalization the campaign at the European Campaign DIGNITY – 23 June
2012, Porto
The JOC is directed towards all young people without discrimination. The JOC has its own
Christian proposal in the liberation and awareness process for young workers.
(a third) characteristic is that this is Catholic Labour Youth (...) young people who
are called to have a different look at reality and this is a different look, a view of
faith, a look of Christ, which in fact is very marked by the JOC own method, that is
the view, the judge and the act, if the view is a viewing of reality, precisely through
life, not of theory, but of real cases of life, which is often painful, there is a judge
who confronts it with the word of God, it is confronted with the doctrine of the
Church in order to discern from this confrontation, which is God’s will, the story of
each young person, and then the act and this act must be a transforming action.
(Reported speech from field diary - 1st meeting with the National Secretariat, 22
May 2012)
They consider that the experience of faith must be lived in the small community which is the
group of activists in the movement and outside (JOC 1999d: 25). The activist group is a small
group of young people who meet regularly, usually once a week. In this they evaluate your life
and action, decide, plan, realise the action, deepen and celebrate their faith.
The objective is group work, group identity, group cohesion, so that it is possible to
share, share life, problems, difficulties, joys, doubts about life, concerns and the
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group is the answer to the problems of each. (Reported speech from field diary - 1st
meeting with the National Secretariat, 22 May 2012)
[At] our group meetings, and this is one of our major activities and we attach great
importance to it, we make a life review, but it is in small groups, never more than
ten in number, because otherwise you do not get space to share your life. (André)
The meetings of a group of activists observed have generally followed the sequence: prayer,
reflection, group dynamics and more prayer. They begin with a prayer, like a song or a reading
of the Bible, followed by individual reflection and group sharing. They also share the problems,
joys, difficulties, pleasant and less pleasant events that happened during the week. The
meetings always concluded with a prayer, the Lord’s Prayer. During these meetings the
preparation of various activities of the JOC and evaluation of the activities of last year’s group
took place as well as the definition of a plan of action to develop and reflections that had
formed since the holidays of each member, their life objectives and life project in both the
short and long term.
The transforming action, the look of Christ and bringing the word of Christ is highlighted by one
of the reflections made by the group of activists about their mission:
Sara said she feels that her mission is to transform the lives of people around her,
and that she also feels the need to grow personally, something she can do through
her JOC group. For João, it is his mission to take Jesus Christ to the people, For
António, the activist is the messenger who spreads the message, the word of Christ,
what they learn in the JOC. (Field diary, 19 October 2012)
The CIJOC makes possible exchange, confrontation and coordination between different national
movements. There are links between JOC in Portugal and other countries; several groups
communicated in partnership with the movements of other countries, mainly in Europe. There
were especially strong trilateral links between the secretariats of Italy, Spain and Portugal. The
national secretariats of JOC Portugal, Italy JOC, the JOC Spain and Catalonia JOC met to share
and reflect on some common issues that concern and affect young people in relation to
education and work; reflection on the current profile of young workers and young people who
have finished their studies, and the need to create an international awareness about the global
difficulties that young people face today and realise what should be the response of the JOC
and the Church, for example, marked the 8th World Council of CIJOC (25 August- 5 September
From our identity as young Christians, we feel a strong responsibility to call and
denounce situations in which young people are living and working in the
educational world. (...) We will continue to carry out our mission with young people
and also working in partnership with other organisations and the student
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employment field, because we are convinced of the central place that the person
should occupy in all political, economic and social activity, as well as the dignity,
values and skills that constitute the substance of an occupational vocation to which
you feel called. (Turin, 5 June 2012, Communiqué of JOC on the reality of young
people in education and the labour market)
On this issue, one exchange of the JOC activists from Portugal and Spain with the theme
‘connection between school and work - what similarities and differences will there be between
the two countries, in respect to this reality?’ was conducted from 9 to 12 February 2013.
According to the testimony of an activist from the JOC, ‘in this way, we get to know the reality,
quite similar issues that are experienced in our brother country. We conclude that, despite the
distance, both countries experience similar situations where young people have huge financial
difficulties, through deprivation of education, to instability and insecurity at work, or even the
lack of this’ (Junilto Netchemó, JOC activist of Lisbon).6
The Christian workers’ movements of Portugal and Spain, recognising the reality of workers in
these countries, praised the initiative and made public its position about the journey of action
and solidarity for 14 November 2012 called by the European Trade Union Confederation (CES).
We understand that this call for a general strike and demonstrations across Europe
is justified. Policies that serve people and their basic needs should be prioritised
over the interests of the market, and while they do not, we understand it is
legitimate to act in defence of the rights of individuals and working families. In turn
we claim as a context of this European Journey of Action and Solidarity, the role of
politics, and in particular trade unions, which are the main means of defence for
organised workers. (General Strike - Statement of Christian Workers Movements of
Portugal and Spain, 7 November 7 2012)
3.5 The JOC in Portuguese Society
The JOC has developed activities in conjunction with a diverse range of organisations and
institutions, related to the pastoral ideal of the movements: the LOC, the League of Catholic
Workers; the MAAC, the Apostolate Movement of Children and Teenagers; and Catholic Action,
a student movement and the movement of young agricultural and rural and the adults.
The JOC has criticized the new austerity measures that the Government intended to apply in
2013 in a way that highlights the importance of being active and re-invigorated citizens.
It is necessary that each of us, as citizens, takes an active position, demanding and
constructive, and joins forces with work colleagues, in professional life, the
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neighbourhood or parish church, in seeking transformations at the local level. It is
also important that all feel part of the solution and mobilize at the national and
even European level if necessary (JOC: position on austerity measures, 14
September 2012).
In conjunction with this, the Catholic Movements Workers warned of ‘enormous’ social
regression: the joint communiqué of the LOC/MTC Catholic Workers League/Movement of
Christian Workers and JOC is critical of the proposed State Budget for 2013 presented by the
Government, and calls for a more participatory democracy and investment in a social,
supportive and cooperative economy, to the ‘Development of a Green Economy,’ assuming
models that place emphasis on human dignity and sustainable development(29 October 2012;
executive teams JOC and LOC/MTC).
Regarding the relationship with organisations outside the Church, there are partnerships with
civil movements, a relationship with youth associations, particularly through the National Youth
Council, and a link with the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth.
(…) with other organisations in different spheres, this cooperation can originate
from them or us (…) for example, trade unions, CGTP and Interjovem,7 we've
worked with them in meetings at least once a year to look at the current situation
and form perspectives for working together. (Maria)
The JOC has also demonstrated its position regarding strikes and demonstrations. Support for
street protests and organised strikes, as well as the national day of action and struggle, in
Lisbon. This was organised by the CGTP and geared towards the defence of the social functions
of the state protected by the Constitution, in February 2013. There was also a call for
participation in the demonstration of 2 March 2013 and participation in the general strike of 27
June 2013.
3.6 The magazine of the JOC - JO
The youth of the movement are responsible for a publication of the JOC, the JO, which is a bimonthly magazine produced by young people, who are also responsible for its sale. As Sara
notes, ‘all realities that appear there are things that young people themselves feel the need to
reflect on and it is quite evocative, and something we ourselves seek.’
A brief analysis of the magazines JO from June 2012 to November 2013 confirms that there are
a range of articles in the areas of youth, work and the Catholic dimension, with a range of
themes related to the concerns of young people, to the labour reality, to the participation
dimension, to the dimension of faith and the activities conducted in the movement. Concerns
related to youth are also addressed; an article discusses the balance between professional life
Such as participation in the demonstration of 1 May 2013.
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and marriage. The titles from covers and lead articles covered various aspects of the
employment situation, whether holiday was a right or a privilege and the situation of
cooperatives in order to better understand the role of cooperatives in Portuguese society. One
article focused on the 1 May, the current situation of workers in Portugal and statements about
how young people live and the meaning of May Day. Concerns about the current state of
Portuguese society also characterised topics and articles, such as an article which asks if
Portugal has a future and where one can live with dignity. Key themes also include emigration,
highlighting the testimony of young people who have emigrated and education, with a
reflection on education in Portugal. Themes about participation and policy are also evident; one
article discussed active participation and gave testimony of citizens who, in different ways, have
made a commitment to participation and transformation in the world; another focused on the
question ‘policy, will you stay in the margins?’
3.7 The JOC by Jocistas
Having considered the formation and operation of the JOC, what remains to be discussed is the
subjective experience of being a jocista. In regard to how people first become involved in the
organisation, members were able to explain, for example, Maria:
The initial contact, prayers, started a long time ago, I cannot say exactly what year,
but I was very young, around 10 years old because my parents participated, when
they were young, they were part of the JOC, and then back home, both myself and
my sister were inculcated into the values and principles of the movement and then,
however, when we began to get older, both myself and my sister, who is three years
older than me, we began to participate in some activities (…) and then we began to
be more serious, and perhaps already at 12 years old or so, I had already started to
participate even in the camps, to attend meetings of the group, more seriously.
This was therefore an induction made within a familial context, as opposed to being an
individual impulsive decision to join. It is also interesting that Maria talks about how this
‘inculcation’ took place over time, alongside other family members, meaning that it was a
gradual process.
Joana also refers to family influence, in particular, a sister who was part of the JOC and also
continuity in the apostolic movement:
I already knew the JOC several years ago, I do not remember very well how many
were there because my sister was in the JOC when I was younger, and then I met
the JOC when she went to meetings, I always had to stay at home and was very
intrigued because she was going and I could not go, and I asked her [about it]
constantly, and then occasionally she also took me with her and I was ready to
know, to have contact. And when she saw my interest in going, in participating, she
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invited some of my friends along with a small group, the MAAC, which is the
Apostolate Movement of Children and Teenagers, which basically has a job very
similar to the JOC, but for ages from 14 to 16 years to below, from 6 to 14 years. So
I took a walk, she was my first inspiration, but then I joined another group of MAAC
also in the same parish, in the same parish church, and with this group I went to the
JOC when we reached the age when one can join JOC. (Joana)
Peer relationships were also important, and other interviewees referred to coming into the
group via friends who invited them to participate in activities of the JOC. One example is Alice:
I met the JOC, had friends in secondary school, who took part already, and went to a
national camp, not sure what it was, I know that camp, we were going camping,
going to the beach, the pool, already, had no vision of what it was like, how the JOC
functioned. After being there I saw how it was and I have always enjoyed it, and I
went to the national, then I was one who was, as I shall describe, it was only two
dioceses, our third camp, I went over with my friends, and then the third camp I
took a friend of mine from the neighbourhood. (Alice)
In regard to what actually took place during this initiation period, aside from the social activities
cited by Alice, an important dimension was learning to live with values and to develop the
faculty for critical thinking. This is explained by Joana, while Sara emphasises the importance of
Well, it seems like clichés, but it’s true, I feel that I would not be what I am if I was
not involved in the JOC and I consider that I have a family that gave me enough
values (…) but in fact it is one thing to know the values and another to learn to live
the values and in JOC, I believe that we learn to live the values. It is not only to
know that I have to love my neighbour, but it is how I love others and then share
the moments when we can and testimonies we receive (...) but above of all I think I
developed this very ability to live what I believe, to be able to evaluate, to achieve
critical thinking, even in regard not only to life but also to the more political issues,
more social issues (…) there is no doubt that at this time I can take a critical look at
politics, and much of that is from the work that is done in the JOC. (Joana)
Cardijn said the best way to train young people is to give them responsibilities and
that is what is reflected the JOC. From the moment you join you know that your
contribution counts, and that you have a responsibility, something to give via your
commitment (...) And as you find your way, this contributes to the development of
others, so you start to feel that these things are a group issue. (Sara)
This qualitative dimension of responsibility and mutuality within the JOC is complemented by
the outreach function of the organisation, and the necessity of making contact with realities.
This is explained by Vera and Carla:
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For me the JOC? As I said there is contact with other realities and other people and
also a little with the work we do, you realize maybe a little more about other
people’s problems and realize what are the problems of society in a different way,
to realize a little bit that the problems that affect society today are different, from a
point of view maybe different and maybe the spirit that feels great in this group,
this spirit union maybe, means we support each other, have everything a person
needs, a problem, a difficulty that is happening is always supported by the people of
the movement, and this is very good, the union and interconnection that exists
between people in the movement. (Vera)
The JOC is a school, every day I’m here closely involved with young people, every
day I learn, when I think I know everything, that is when we learn something more,
so (...) the JOC is a school of life, every day we learn and teach something every day,
we learn more than we teach, and I think JOC is very important for young people.
As for more positive aspects, what they like the most in the JOC is referred to as ‘the method’,
meaning the methodology of the JOC: the groups, the sharing, young people as the
protagonists, as a practical movement, with personal intervention enabling transformation and
I think this is very positive (…) our method is to see, judge and act and that enables
us to have a different view on the world, not better nor worse, but a vision of what
we believe and that lets young people change. We can do many activities that are
very good but for young people who are in the JOC, it is not just the activities that
matter but also this sharing in the group and involvement in the group; this ability
to do small actions can lead to a capacity to change society, and it is this that really
matters. (Joana)
Some negative aspects were also mentioned, such as the requirements of the movement,
differential levels of involvement among young people, the lack of young people in the
movement and work overload.
In respect to inspirational people, the interviewees highlighted parents, mothers and fathers, as
Sara says, ‘my parents are both in the Christian life, as jocistas and as parents (...) they are
people that transmit to me a very consistent view of life, and a testimony of love and
forgiveness.’ Jesus Christ is also mentioned by the interviewees as an inspirational figure, for
example, Joana, who considers Christ as ‘a reference, no doubt, and I often think in my actions,
in my attitudes, about what he would do.’ And as regards Alice, ‘Nelson Mandela is a person
who has inspired me, because of all that he has passed through, and by sheer force of will, and
also for what he’s going through now.’
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The interviewees also emphasised that JOC activists, leaders of JOC, animators of groups, the
National Assistant and the founder of JOC were inspirational.
At the theoretical level, the founder of the JOC is always a reference, now that, for
example, I have re-read his life story, I think it is very interesting. I’m absolutely
enthused about how he got to have this vision, how he was able to mobilize so
many young people from nothing for this project, I think it is absolutely inspiring (...)
the older activists of my diocese, who have left, were a very strong reference point
also, and it was from them that I realised what it is to be JOC, and that they are still
there to support. Although they already left, they continue to monitor and show
that there is a time when we need to pass the JOC onto others, and they are such a
good example of that determination, to believe in the project and to want to
continue to carry it forward. (Maria)
Regarding young people themselves, and their influence on others, the interviewees highlight
this as testimony, as Maria continues:
In the JOC we greatly appreciate testimony, it is more than empty words, we try to
do so as it can have an effect on the formation of others, obviously that is always a
free choice as we seek to never impose anything (...) maybe even the mistakes, so
you do not make the same mistakes. (Maria)
As forms of participation, besides the JOC groups, there is participation in demonstrations and
strikes,8 volunteering, voting, parish assemblies in student organisations, signing petitions and
trade union membership. One Interviewee who highlighted the importance of civic
participation and the importance of voting was Patrícia:
I like to have this civic participation, because I have this right and duty as a citizen,
even to vote, I think I am of those people who think that everyone has a duty to go
vote even if it is blank. People should go to vote because the blank vote is actually a
manifestation of voting, that a person will vote. (Patrícia)
Interviewees who look to the future think that they will continue in the JOC and participate in
groups of reflection and sharing, such as LOC, and create new groups of JOC:
While acting as an activist in the JOC, I’ll still be very connected to all the activities
and the dynamism of the movement, but after that, I would like to have a space
where, whatever it is, I could continue in a group. I do not know how, I do not know
where. There is for example the League of Catholic Workers (LOC), but I do not
know whether there is any other organisation, I would have to see. But I would like
One interviewee had a more negative opinion about the demonstrations and strikes; she had no interest in
participating and considered some demonstrations to be nonsense.
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a place where I could continue to have a space for reflection and participation.
Vera also stresses that she would like to be involved in other similar organisations in the future:
I would like to get more involved, to get more involved maybe in a combination of
social solidarity associations, I think that enriches a person to an extraordinary level
so I think that’s my next focus, to start or participate in a voluntary, in an
association of social solidarity. (Vera)
Joana also emphasises that the JOC is a mechanism for other participation, with an intention in
the future to participate in local associations, for example, local parish assemblies. She stressed
the importance of participation at local level, and also of possible participation in unions or
associations defending the rights of workers.
As circumstances intervened and especially at the local level, I think it is at local
level that things should start and then seek to intervene more, in neighbourhood
associations, or associations, in parish council without any affiliation (...) be able to
participate at municipal level as well (...) then I intend to continue in JOC and
established my participation by JOC, but not only restricted to the JOC. Because I
think that JOC gives us the mechanism to participate in other ways. (Joana)
Regarding politics, the interviewees demonstrate various opinions associated with politics for
the collective good, representation of the people, and demonstrate a negative view towards
the government and politicians who are considered as corrupt. They also highlight cases where
party interests are put above the interest of the country, and take from those who have the
least; when the deputies have the benefits, there is manipulation of information and reference
to abstentionism as a problem. In regard to level of interest in ‘formal’ politics, this varies
between members:
I do not really like politics, but when I came to JOC, I had to listen. But I do not really
like politics, and honestly do not like to discuss politics because I sometimes do not
understand it. For me, they are hypocrites who only think of themselves and not
Portugal. (Carla)
The interest, the politics is the life of society, of all that we all have that interests us
because it is our society, is not it? (...) in any case I always try to be very informed
and be aware of what is happening, although I do not see much TV, but I try to read
the newspapers and be aware of what is happening. (Maria)
Interviewees who reported that they like to talk about politics, as in the case of Patrícia, also
mention that they like to talk, especially with family members, although within the group, they
talk less about politics:
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I really like politics but am not the best learner. But I like that, even at home, my
father has similar theories and we always comment on what he thinks, what I think,
and we like to hear the commentators and to know more. But overall I am not the
person who knows it all, unfortunately. I like a lot to learn, but like my father has a
connection to politics (...) so he has an interest in politics and I also gained this (...)
but there are very few people in my group who actually enjoy talking about politics.
On the other hand, Carlos mentions that he discusses enough politics with colleagues, and
makes reflections with his mother and that the JOC also talks a lot about politics, although it
does not identify with a party policy it emphasises the importance of participating and being
I discuss enough politics with my colleagues, and to this day, sometimes on the
phone with my mother. But in the JOC, we also talk a lot about politics (...) also,
democracy is crucial and we learn to live with the virtues and the faults of
democracy, with the system we have, even though I do not honestly see myself
participating in a political party (...) maybe in a group outside of this sphere. (Carlos)
Mário also reinforces the role of JOC towards being aware and informed and in sharing this
I think one of the essential characteristics that the JOC transmits is the importance
of paying attention, and the importance of being informed, that after this also, from
the outset if I have a greater degree of access to information, if I have the facility to
have some kind of information and be informed about a certain subject, I have a
greater obligation and a greater responsibility to actually have this, to collect this
information and also then be able to share it with those who have no access.
The interviewees reveal different attitudes towards political parties: on the one hand, there are
those who believe that because they are jocistas they must not belong to any political party.
I have been invited me to join a party, but I thought it made no sense given that I
was a jocista. W argued that jocistas as jocistas should not belong to a political party
(...) because above all, I think a jocista must be able to speak in a critical way about
everything (...) I think it makes no sense for us to belong directly to a party. (Sara)
There are also interviewees who do not identify with the party system and therefore have no
affiliation and sympathy for any party. Although Maria did say that her ideology is more on the
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In terms of politics, I have no political affiliation to any political party, I have a party
of choice, maybe have an ideology, a view that is closest to the ideas of the left if I
may say so, but I cannot say that there is a party with which I identify because
unfortunately there are none, at least not yet. There has never been any party that
mirrored exactly what I feel should be a priority. (Maria)
Mário, additionally, has no desire to participate in party politics:
The policy has never been partisan politics; I never had this desire, so party politics
does not, in any way, interest me. Because I think there is, I do not know, I feel a
great, in some ways a great disappointment. I feel a certain dislike in seeing what
policy has become (...) and I never felt attracted by this kind of participation.
On the other hand, interviewees such as Patrícia referred to the fact that they might have liked
to participate in a youth political party.
There was an attempt to see if there was interest in it (belonging to a youth political
party) or not, and at the time I said it was not in my plans to do that (...) I thought
that at 18, 19 years old, I was not prepared to take that step. (Patrícia)
4. Conclusion
This study of the Catholic Labour Youth provides insight into this religiously-orientated example
of civic engagement. In moving towards a conclusion, there are obvious limitations to consider,
such as the fact that only one group has been studied, while the JOC operates at national level
and among activist groups, but has focused, and with a subjective level focus upon how and
why people join, and what happens to them when they become jocistas.
In this respect, we have insight into faith-based activism which may lack the topicality of other
contemporaneous social movements in Portugal, and indeed elsewhere but one which is no less
engaged than the more recent forms of youth political mobilisation, e.g. the precarious
workers’ group covered in one of the other WP7 case studies. At the same time, we can see
that the group is integrated into activism on the main political concerns of the day, for instance,
youth unemployment, and also engages in participation in longstanding events such as the
traditional May Day marches alongside other groups, including trade unions.
On the matter of politics, the group cannot however be said to be of a particular ideological
hue, left or right, since this would go against the ethos of inclusiveness that characterizes the
Christian context. Indeed, it was interesting that the personage of Jesus Christ was cited as an
influential figure, alongside other worldly individuals, including the organisation’s founder.
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The group, despite being international, also has a strong Portuguese character, and follows in
national traditions of the social movement being integrated with a transmission of faith
determining, thus sustaining both the Church and fostering inter-generational replication of
beliefs, attitudes and religious practices (Pais, 2001).
5. Future analysis
The most obvious suggestion for future analysis is to engage in cross-case analysis, as a study of
a youth, labour and Catholic movement, with other the case studies of Cluster 6: faith based
organisations. There may also be potential for integrating perspectives with cluster 5: youth
sections of political, labour and state-sponsored organisations. What may unite this case study
with others is not only temporal context, and being European, but as an example of a ‘political’
movement that is not political in the sense of being a left or a right wing mobilisation but rather
ideologically inclusive, or at least non-prescriptive. What is interesting is the confrontation of
this non-aligned position with actual actions made in opposition to contemporary political
challenges. An obvious example is the anti-austerity discourse cited in the text, which is quite
explicitly opposing right-wing and neo-liberal political ideology as manifest in the policies of the
ruling parties in Portugal. This creates a potential tension which might benefit from exploration
at a cross-cultural level. It would certainly make an interesting direction for future observation.
Within the Portuguese context, there is also potential cross-pollination with both the other
WP7 case studies, not only as examples of youth political mobilisation but also in terms of
integration of social/cultural/lifestyle practices and ideology (particular with the Barreiro
assembly/allotment), and the shared interest in street protests (the precarious workers’
movement); indeed, the two groups, individually or collectively, quite literally share a platform
in terms of their participation in the mass marches and other events such as May Day.
6. References
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Fonseca, M. A. F. (2002) ‘Os movimentos católicos juvenis na sociedade portuguesa’, Revista
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JOC (2013f) Revista JO ‘Política, ficas à margem?’, nº. 648, Outubro/Novembro 2013.
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Silva, A. (1993) ‘Continuidade e inovação na doutrina social da Igreja’, Análise Social, vol. XXVIII
(123-124), 1993 (4º,5º), pp.775-786.
Rezola, M. I. (1994) ‘Católicos, operários e Sindicatos’. Lusitania Sacra, 2ª série, 6, pp. 101-127.
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7. Appendix: Table 1. Socio-demographic profile of interviewees
In part-time
Live at home
with parents
In full-time
Did not
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Relationship to
Member initiation
with friends
Member direction
In full-time
Live at home
with parent
Member activist
In full-time
with friends
Member direction
university and
currently at
Working and
in part-time
Member –
Currently at
In full-time
Live at home
with parents
Member initiation
In full-time
with friends
Member direction
Currently in
In full-time
Live in residence
Member activist
In full-time
with friends
Member direction
In full-time
with friends
Member –
MYPLACE: FP7-266831
Deliverable 7.1: Ethnographic Case Studies of Youth Activism
Page 28 of 29
Currently at
In full-time
with friends
Member initiation
Currently at
In full-time
Live at home
with parents
Member initiation
Currently at
In full-time
with friends
Member activist
MYPLACE: FP7-266831
Deliverable 7.1: Ethnographic Case Studies of Youth Activism
Page 29 of 29

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