Interpreting Culture in a Scottish Congregation

Interpreting Culture in a Scottish Congregation

by Al Dowie

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820456591
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
Publication date: 08/23/2002
Series: Pastoral Theology Series , #3
Pages: 258
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.06(h) x (d)

About the Author

The Author: Al Dowie is Lecturer in the Medical School at the University of Dundee, Scotland, specializing in qualitative methods in health care research and the ethnography of medical education. He received his Ph.D. for this ethnographic approach to congregational studies from the University of Edinburgh.

Table of Contents

Prefacexv
Acknowledgmentsxvii
Introduction1
Part 1Hermeneutics, Ethnography, and Congregational Studies7
1Hermeneutics and Practical Theology9
Hermeneutical Perspectives10
Fundamental Distinctions11
Interpretation11
Understanding12
Meaning and Truth12
Object Domains in Hermeneutics13
Varieties of Interpretative Context13
Validity and Hermeneutical Method15
Widening the Horizons17
Practical Theological Perspectives19
Hermeneutics in Pastoral Theology20
Clinical Pastoral Education, Pastoral Counselling, and Pastoral Care21
Christian Religious Education23
Homiletics24
The Interpretation of Situations27
Effective History27
The Horizon of Understanding29
The Fusion of Horizons30
Hermeneutical Social Research30
Theological Interpretation of Situations31
Edward Farley31
David Tracy33
Don Browning34
Conclusion34
2Ethnographic Method and the Interpretation of Culture37
Ethnography as Hermeneutical Description38
Representation38
Validity and Reliability42
Generalisation of Ethnographic Results43
Ethnography as the Interpretation of Culture45
Defining Culture45
A Semiotic Approach to Culture47
Ethnographic Fieldwork50
Participant Observation51
Ethnographic Interviews53
The Ethnographic Account56
Styles of Ethnographic Account56
Writing Ethnographic Accounts57
Limitations of Ethnographic Accounts59
Assessing Ethnographic Accounts61
Conclusion63
3Interpreting Congregational Culture65
Culture and Social Organisation67
Congregations as Social Organisations68
Organisational Culture69
Congregational Culture70
Interpretative Approaches to Congregations73
Images of Congregational Life73
Narrative73
Life Cycle76
Family78
Congregational Studies80
Tom Allan80
Carl Dudley et al81
James Hopewell82
Don Browning83
Penny Edgell Becker, Mary Elizabeth Moore, and Peter Stromberg86
Conclusion88
Part 2An Ethnography of Riverstane Church89
4Ethnographic Fieldwork91
The Participant Observer91
Ecclesiological and Theological Horizon92
Entree to the Field Setting94
Participant Roles96
Advantages and Disadvantages of Participant Roles96
Role Contamination97
Role Conflict97
Research Design98
Preparation in the Field Setting98
Selection of Interviewees100
Interview Method104
Analysis and the Ethnographic Account108
Interpreting Interview Material108
Voices in the Ethnographic Account112
Conclusion114
5Context and Cultural Scenes at Riverstane Church115
Socio-Historical Context115
Brief Historical Notes116
Effective History at Riverstane Church117
Cultural Scenes and Social Segmentation120
Gatherings at Sunday Morning Services120
Going to the Church121
Going into the Church123
Going through the Church128
Conclusion136
6Symbols of Riverstane: Tradition and Construction of a Collective Sense of Self137
Riverstane Church and its Symbols139
Christian Symbols139
Other Symbolism142
Church Services144
The Public Face of Riverstane Church151
Idiosyncrasies of the Sunday Service152
The Town Church155
Sinn Fein ('Ourselves Alone')157
Conclusion159
7Micro-Politics and Status Economics at Riverstane Church161
The Public Allocation of Status162
Committee Meetings164
A Kirk Session Meeting166
The De-Skilling of Individuals170
Social Incentive and Disincentive171
Boundaries as Demarcations of Status175
Interpersonal Boundaries175
The Church Building as Symbolic Boundary177
Conclusion179
Part 3Boundaries, Mission, and the Pastoral Context181
8Churches at the Boundary: Congregational Mission183
Characteristic Features of Congregational Culture184
Differentiality184
Symbols184
Social Segmentation186
Difference186
Being 'Different'186
Symbolic Boundaries187
Deference188
Dissonance189
Congregational Culture versus Congregational Mission191
The Role of the Church Building195
Form and Function195
Form and Behaviour196
The Role of Micro-Politics197
The Status Economy197
Self-Reinforcing Systems198
Congregational Mission as [characters not reproducible] (Philoxenia)200
Congregations and Biblical Narrative201
Boundaries and Hospitality to the Stranger203
Conclusion209
9Boundaries in the Pastoral Context211
Congregational Culture and the Pastoral Context212
Narcissistically Oriented Congregational Culture212
Ministers as [characters not reproducible] (Megalopsuchoi)216
Power in the Pastoral Context218
Authority, Autonomy, and Pastoral Power218
Boundary and Pastoral Modality222
Salvation and Transfer Terminology222
Reframing the Threshold224
The Interpathic Self227
Conclusion231
Conclusion: Ethnography, [characters not reproducible], and Interpathy233
Bibliography237
Index251

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