Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Bryan Turner

Committee Members

John Torpey

William Helmreich

Subject Categories

Sociology

Keywords

Religion, Religious Identity, Congregations, Christianity

Abstract

Trends towards religious individualism, the de-institutionalization of religion, and the decline of denominational affiliations potentially impact religious congregations in a range of different ways. Drawing on a variety of theoretical and historical perspectives, this study examines these issues through a qualitative case study of a progressive Christian congregation in Brooklyn, New York. The case study explores the history, worship practices, and culture of the congregation in detail, focusing on the formation of religious identity and community within the context of congregational life. This close examination of the culture of the congregation reveals the ways in which the tensions between religious individualism and congregational religion are negotiated and managed, particularly within progressive Christian congregational cultures. The findings of the study also lend support to the view that denominational identity within mainline Protestantism tends to be ambivalent, at both the individual and congregational level, and that the formation of religious identities instead takes place around more pragmatic, individualized, and local concerns.

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