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The Meta-Power Paradigm

Impacts and Transformations of Agents, Institutions, and Social Systems-- Capitalism, State, and Democracy in a Global Context

Edited By Tom R. Burns and Peter M. Hall

This work presents, elaborates, and illustrates what is arguably the most important concept in the social sciences: power. It focuses particularly on a major class of power phenomena, meta-power, that is, power over power, transformative and structuring power. This encompasses powers to establish, reform, and transform social systems (institutions, power hierarchies, cultural formations, and socio-technical and infrastructural systems). Understanding meta-power is essential to the effective analysis of the formation of societal structures, their dynamics and evolution. This collection presents numerous illustrations and case studies at local, meso, and macro levels, showing how meta-powering is mobilized and operates in different contexts. The book should be of particular interest to business and management researchers, anthropologists, historians, legal scholars, political scientists, and, of course, sociologists.

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C H A P T E R 10: Kevin L. McElmurry and Peter M. Hall: Meta-power, Staging Work, and Constructing a Religious Experience

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379 C H A P T E R 1 0 Meta-power, Staging Work, and Constructing a Religious Experience Kevin L. McElmurry and Peter M. Hall Introduction For the observant, going to a church, synagogue, mosque, or any religious/spiritual event may often be a common, taken-for–granted, and structured occasion. These events often consist mainly of a repetition of ordered elements; greetings, an- nouncements, songs sung with or without accompaniment, readings and responses, prayers, sermons, and collections. While the contents may vary among traditions and with the particular season, corporate worship is generally a routine situation for adherents. Take the practice of Christianity in the United States for example. Using data from his National Congregations Study Mark Chaves (2004) points out that for most Americans practicing their faith within religious institutions means gathering with others once a week to sing, pray, and listen to a speech. However, like any col- lectively performed activity, religious practices require some measure of deliberate planning, construction, and coordination. Here we draw attention to how those rit- ualized gathering events are actively created, coordinated, and produced. In the current religious marketplace (c.f. Warner 1993) many innovators see themselves in relationship with competing religious organizations; each working to grow by attracting people who have either lapsed their attendance and need to be rejuvenated or those who have little history with religious institutions. The view of some institutional innovators is that the more traditional religious forms, practices and content are no longer effective in attracting adherents. Since the...

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