Doing Boundary Work as an "Inclusive" Group: A Qualitative Study of a Liberal Congregation Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • Krull, Laura
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
Abstract
  • In doing boundary work, members of a group solidify their own identity by comparing themselves against an ‘out-group’ representing who they are not, but what happens when a group claims an “inclusive” identity? Drawing on 26 in-depth interviews and a year of participant observation at a liberal, Protestant congregation, this paper explores how church members develop three strategies for boundary work that exclude religious conservatives (the out-group) without challenging the congregation’s claim to “inclusivity.” First, they refer to the out-group in vague terms to avoid explicitly naming who is excluded; second, they emphasize what works for them spiritually rather than criticizing other religious traditions; finally, they construct favorable comparisons between their church and others. Ultimately I show that this tension between boundary work and the claim to inclusivity leads to the reproduction of inequality, as church members value seeing ‘both sides’ over challenging racist, classist, and heterosexist beliefs and actions.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Pearce, Lisa D.
  • Tyson, Karolyn
  • Kleinman, Sherryl
Degree
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
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