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Alex, Christine (2007) TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY PARTICIPATION IN TWO U.S. GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCHES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study provides new insights on the state of participation in a contemporary ethnoreligious group organization, the Greek Orthodox Church. I examine the ethnoreligious identities and practices of participants who were diverse along lines of church activity, gender, age, generational status, marital status, ancestry, and even religion in two Pittsburgh-area churches. Data were collected through one-on-one in-depth interviews as well as participant observation within the churches' organizations to capture the attitudes and experiences of the Greek Orthodox Church participant and to understand the reasons for participation amidst the predominant white ethnic climate of symbolic ethnicity. Two major themes emerged from the data. First, unmarried Greek Orthodox Americans in these organizations definitely considered how the ethnic/religious background of their chosen mate would impact their own, as well as their children's, future in the church. Second, participants of varying generational statuses referenced different sources of attraction to the church's activities: earlier generation (first and second) participants commonly identified the ethnic and ethnoreligious appeal of the church, while later generation (third) and convert participants acknowledged a primarily religious connection to the church. These findings suggest that theories of assimilation and symbolic ethnicity, which predict a decline in ethnic adherence, may not apply to ethnic groups who also share an exclusive religion. On the contrary, the two organizations studied here are gaining membership as Greek Orthodox Americans increasingly marry outside their ethnicity/religion but bring in their convert spouses to the organizations. Given their changing social composition, however, these churches are facing a crucial issue for their future: whether to maintain the current balance of religious and ethnic activity or to change the focus of activities to cater to the growing interest in religious-based activity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBlee, Kathleenkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberMuller, Edwardekmuller@pitt.eduEKMULLER
Committee MemberBrush, Lisa Dlbrush@pitt.eduLBRUSH
Committee MemberLovell, Peggylovell@pitt.eduLOVELL
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 23 April 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 11 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethnic identity; participation; Greek; religious identity
Other ID:, etd-04112007-103230
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:35
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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