Best, Simon Peter John (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis is a sociological study of the current generation of adolescent Quakers. It examines and analyses their beliefs and values; individual and group practice and how the group functions. The research demonstrates that for the adolescent Quaker group belief is unimportant and non-definitional; values are broad and open to individual interpretation, although key shared values have an optional influence on behaviour. Involvement in Quaker activity is extensive, corporate worship is central and internal discipline is strong. I argue that the adolescent Quaker group represents a ‘Community of Intimacy’, a collective grouping which places emphasis on belonging, inter-personal networks secured by friendships, shared values, expression though individual and corporate behaviour, and the separateness of the group from other Quakers and other adolescents. This concept can be related to other groups and represents an original contribution to existing scholarship, providing a new way of describing groups and explaining how they function. The research illustrates that while both the adult and adolescent Quaker groups have sect-like characteristics the sectarian nature of the groups is differently configured. I argue that the failure of the adult group to acknowledge the adolescent group as separate and different results in its cultural, institutional and theological marginalisation.
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