Civic Congregations: Congregational Dynamics and Individual Civic Choices
University of Notre Dame
My dissertation considers the relevance of congregations to America’s civic health. Scholars of religion and politics know much about how individual religious beliefs and participation matter for civic involvement, but little research asks if the daily activities of congregations impact members’ civic participation. Using tile U.S. Congregational Life Survey, I demonstrate that congregational culture teaches ways of life that help to determine how congregation members engage wider society. I argue that the social participation of church leaders matters both symbolically in setting an example, and structurally in making opportunities available to followers. The leader is also important to the decision making strategy of a congregation. I make a distinction between churches where decisions are made collectively, thus promoting active participation in wider society, and those where decisions are made largely by the leader, exposing churchgoers to a less participatory strategy. Related to this is the associational culture of a congregation. I argue that vital small group life exposes congregation members to a participatory strategy that cultivates a similar approach to public life. Findings will speak not only to scholars, but also to those who want U.S. religious bodies to have a voice in future social debate.
No report available for this grant.
|University of Notre Dame||“Civic Congregations: Congregational Dynamics and Individual Civic Involvement”||2005||Dissertation||Matthew Loveland||Author||