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Joining New Congregations – Motives, Ways and Consequences

A Comparative Study of New Congregations in a Norwegian Folk Church Context and a Thai Minority Context

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Morten Sandland

Why do people join new congregations? How does this happen? And which consequences does this have for people’s belief and behavior? These are the main questions addressed in this comparative case study from the distinctively different contexts of Norway and Thailand. While joining a new congregation in Thailand in most cases is understood in terms of conversion, what happens in the Norwegian context is mainly referred to as a process of revitalized commitment. However, common in both contexts was that joining a new congregation implied an aspect of religious change. In order to understand this change, the author applies perspectives from contemporal conversion studies, such as Lewis R. Rambo’s typology of conversion, and from anthropological studies of change.
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9 Concluding summary

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9. Concluding Summary

This thesis has presented a comparative case study where members in the two distinctively different contexts of Norway and Thailand have been asked why and how they got involved in a new congregation, and what consequences this had for their belief and behavior. In order to answer these questions, I have, after a presentation of the two congregations (chapter 2) and three individual cases from each context (chapters 3–4), presented and analyzed how members of the two congregations of Fahoan and Bærland reflected on the three main themes of motives, ways and consequences (chapters 5–7). The main findings from this analysis have next been subject to a more comprehensive, theoretical analysis (chapter 8).

My research has served two purposes. Given my empirical horizon, it has, on the one hand, aimed at identifying and analyzing context-specific aspects from the two congregations. Next, following a strategy of maximum variation sampling, the aim of this study has been to capture and describe common themes and patterns.696 By selecting a small sample of great diversity, the data collection and analysis have thus yielded two kinds of findings, which are both important in qualitative research. First, by comparing cases from distinctively different contexts, the study has identified issues that are common for both contexts. Second, through detailed descriptions of each case, the study has also documented the uniqueness of each case.

I will start with issues that were common for...

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