A qualitative exploration of the social dynamics of religious shunning in the Jehovah’s Witness community

Grendele, Windy A. (2022) A qualitative exploration of the social dynamics of religious shunning in the Jehovah’s Witness community. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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Abstract

Background: Research indicates that shunning and ostracism may have long-lasting and severe effects on the individual’s well-being. However, there is scarcity of research into shunning enacted in a religious context. Therefore, using Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example, the present research explores the experiences of being shunned from a religious community, with particular reference to the impact on the lives of individuals, and the strategies employed to cope with such an event.
Methodology: Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner,1986) and Identity Process Theory (Breakwell, 1986, 2001), integrated with the constructs of power (French and Raven, 1959) and the Social Dominance Theory (Pratto et al., 1994), provide the theoretical framework which underpins the current thesis. The narratives of two groups of participants, those of members who have been shunned (Group A; n = 21) as well as PIMO and former Elders (Group B; n = 12), form the research data. The data are analysed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun et al., 2019).
Results: The thesis has generated three main findings. First, the participants’ journey is a complex experience, where intrinsic and extrinsic forces combine in influencing the individual’s behaviour and decisions. Second, shunning may produce constructive outcomes, but by-and-large, shunning is an experience of loss which has serious impacts on the individual’s physical and emotional well-being. Third, the individual after being shunned embarks on a journey towards personal emancipation which culminates with a cognitive revolution. However, the process towards regaining ownership and autonomy is not defined by fixed stages of coping. Rather, it appears to be a continuum with the individual advancing from personal stagnation to personal progression over time.
Implications: By developing an awareness of the underlying factors which may facilitate or hinder personal progression, this research may assist healthcare professionals in providing a more effective support that aims at helping the shunned client to progress towards autonomy and self-reliance. Also, the contribution of this research leads to new lines of inquiry. Future work would focus on the need of informing and engaging the police force, legislators, educational stakeholders, and policy makers. This is firstly, to properly address reports of discrimination because of religious shunning, secondly, to enhance child safety in ensuring their best interests are met, and lastly, to guarantee the individual’s basic rights during the judicial process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Philosophy
Psychology
Depositing User: Windy A. Grendele
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 10:18
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2022 10:18
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/9160

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