Habitat for Humanity®

Building Private Homes, Building Public Religion

Jerome P. Baggett
Book Cover

PB: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-803-9
Publication: Jun 01

HC: $76.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-802-2
Publication: Dec 00

360 pages
6 x 9
2 figs.

An interview study of Habitat for Humanity® as a voluntary organization and as a social form of religion

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).


Habitat for Humanity®, a grassroots house-building ministry founded in 1976 by evangelical Christians, is one of the best-known and most widely popular nonprofit organizations in operation today. With approximately 1500 local affiliates in the United States and more than 300 abroad in sixty-four countries, the organization has constructed more than 90,000 homes primarily by mobilizing concerned citizens, who include about 250,000 American volunteers each year.

The author tells the story of Habitat's development and the special fervor it evokes among volunteers and those for whom it builds houses. Through interviews with staff, he also provides a look into the organizational dynamics of Habitat, a non-profit whose religious mission for social change is inevitably affected by the instrumental, bottom-line orientation of the state and the market.

Baggett argues that Habitat is an example of a particular social form of religion, the paradenominational organization, that is uniquely adapted to the climate of the modern world. It is one of the vital forms that voluntarism takes today.

Table of Contents

1. The Voluntary Sector and American Religion
2. The Founding Vision of Habitat for Humanity®
3. Habitat’s Organizational Structure and Growth
4. Citizenship and Its Class-Based Distortions
5. Citizenship and the Instrumental Logic of the Market
6. Habitat’s Construction of "Real Religion"
7. Religious Pluralism and Spiritual Selves within Habitat
8. Building Upon a Sturdy Foundation
Appendix A: Affiliate Covenant: A Basic Covenant between Habitat for Humanity® International and an Approved Habitat Affiliate Project
Appendix B: Steps to Affiliation
Appendix C: Habitat’s Local Affiliate Structure
Selected Bibliography

About the Author(s)

Jerome P. Baggett is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.