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Title:Conformed to This World? The Cultural Patchwork of New Evangelicals
Author(s):McConkey, Edwin Dale, II
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Denzin, Norman K.
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, General
Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Abstract:Are evangelical Christians conforming to the cultural patterns of the secular world? This is the question that motivates my dissertation. Despite media representations of orthodox Protestants as monolithically conservative and reactionary, many scholars have noted that an "evangelical megashift" is taking place in the contemporary United States. This shift indicates that conservative Christians are exchanging their exclusionary, fire-and-brimstone manner for kinder, gentler, softer tones. James Davison Hunter and others assert that this shift is caused by evangelicals' accommodation--their conformity--to the modern world. I contend, however, that the relationship between religious congregations and the larger society is much more complex and heterogeneous than these analyses allow.
To address the above issues, I spent 22 months studying the local culture of a new evangelical congregation, which I call Covenant Community of Christ. My research contributes to sociological understanding of religion in three ways. First, I am providing a detailed account of a new evangelical community. Thickly descriptive accounts of any evangelical cultures are scarce, and no ethnographies exist which directly addresses the emerging new evangelical culture. Such an account reveals how this phenomenon is experienced and interpreted by those who live it. Second, the style in which I present the collective story of Covenant Community attempts to contribute to fledgling efforts at new modes of representing lived experience. I employ a multivocal "roundtable" format designed to privilege the interpretations of Covenant Community members and to use my voice as a supportive "moderator." Finally, but perhaps most importantly, this dissertation suggests a new model for interpreting local religious cultures such as Covenant Community of Christ. Drawing upon the overlapping concerns of symbolic interactionism and cultural studies, I develop an interpretation of Covenant Community of Christ that is more open, dynamic, and heterogeneous than previous attempts to describe the new evangelical world view. I contend that such an interpretation, which portrays new evangelicals as a "patchwork" of disparate elements from the larger society, can also be used to understand other religious cultures.
Issue Date:1993
Description:285 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9411714
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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