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An exploration of conflict handling among Quakers

Robson, Susan Margaret (2005) An exploration of conflict handling among Quakers. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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    Abstract

    The Quaker community is committed to conflict resolution; it might be expected that
    the community itself is conflict free. This study explores this proposition and presents
    a counter narrative: conflict does exist among Quakers, with its roots in the culture of
    the organization.

    An ethnographic case study was undertaken in a context of observing participation,
    where the researcher was also actively responsible inside the organization. The
    project included: 39 semi-structured interviews with Key Informants, Grassroots
    Quakers and Edge Quakers; a collaborative inquiry workshop with 20 self-selected
    participants; recording of reflections over six months with a final workshop.

    The study finds a dominant community narrative telling how the Quaker task is to
    'mend the world' and live in a'peaceable kingdom'. This is achieved by ignoring
    conflict within the organization, defensively following the maxim 'don't ask, don't tell,
    don't even think about it'. A distinctive pattern of conflict handling is revealed;
    aversion precedes avoidance, relationship is privileged above outcome, and
    moderation and restraint are required. Conflict which does surface and persists
    focuses on the interpretation of Quaker identity. The culture of aversion from conflict
    makes it difficult for Quakers to articulate conflict experience; they lack confidence
    and are hesitant. Counter narratives and personal narratives are not made public.
    Consequently there are very few collectively articulated stories about Quaker conflict
    handling.

    A constructivist narrative framework acknowledges the power in the internalised
    collective narrative. As proud individual nonconformists, Quakers minimise the
    coercive power of the collective narrative, which positions them as stultified in
    conflict, with their agency neutralized. It is argued that one way of creating radical
    change is to encourage the telling of more stories of Quaker conflict, providing new
    parts in the play.

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID uk.bl.ethos.417307
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
    B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
    H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
    B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    Depositing User: Graham Stone
    Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2009 15:18
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 19:48
    URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/5945

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