The Role of the Contemporary Christian Church in the Rural American South Philosophical Approaches to Operationalizing Religion in Research

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Leah M Bouchard
Sarah Kye Price
Laura Swan


church, rural, religion, philosophy, contemporary Christian, American South


The contemporary Christian Church plays many roles in the community and in the lives of individuals and families living there: Church as a political tool, Church as an instrument for community stability and change, Church as an oppressor and source of rejection, and Church as a source of protection.  Literature commonly approaches Christianity and involvement in the contemporary Christian Church from a positivist paradigm which assumes Christianity and church-involvement are rooted solely in commitment to faith.  Exploring Christianity in a rural context requires researchers to consider alternative philosophical paradigms when operationalizing religion, such as church-involvement as a source of community or social exclusion through a post-positivist paradigm or church-involvement as a source of authority through Foucault's postmodernist paradigm.  Shifts in the operationalization of religion in rural research and implications of such must be considered in the field of social work.

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