The last twenty years have seen the emergence of a francophone research area in conversion studies. With few exceptions, these studies are tied to theoretical frameworks of the sociology of secularization and religious identification or the anthropology of the individual relationship with God, which confirm the theoretical postulate of a growing process of individualization, deregulation, and deinstitutionalization of contemporary religiosity.
My empirical observations about the process of conversion to Judaism led me to question the effectiveness of such approaches. The point I make here is twofold: first, the personal journey of conversion cannot be understood outside the structural relationships that continue to shape the identity of the convert; secondly, the formal process of conversion to Judaism remains a very normative process in the hand of religious institutions. Conversion thus appears as a possible way to interpret, testify, and update religious norms and doctrines in a context of redefining religious institutionalism.