Date of Award
Religious and Theological Studies
Katherine Turpin, Ph.D.
Nonviolence, Oppression, Privilege, Social change, Solidarity, Violence
This dissertation uses a practical theological approach to evaluate Christian (non)violence in light of interviews with twelve scholars and activists in the United States about the means of social change and the relationship of those means to social location. Social location conditions an understanding of what violence is and how different groups justify and respond to various uses of violence and (non)violence within society and for social change. The project sets Christian (non)violent practice within the context of direct, structural and cultural violence, and implicates Christian tradition, theology and practice in each level of violence. The qualitative data exposes the rationalizing mechanisms of the dominant culture's violence: the denial of violence; the reversal of the perpetrators of violence, and; the entitlements of privileged social location. When Christian (non)violence emerges from a dominant social location and does not address these levels and mechanisms of violence, it functions ideologically to obscure the operation of political and economic power, maintains the violence and privilege of those in power, thereby undermining fundamental social transformation. Interviewee data also portrays a comprehensive constellation of effective practices of social change, be they violent or (non)violent, that destabilize the dominant trajectory of rationalizing violence. Emergent qualitative perspectives on questions and practices of organized violence and (non)violence point towards renewed Christian praxis for social transformation. The practical theological model offers an approach to social change which values: practices determined in the context of social struggle over theological abstractions; collective modes of action that undermine individualism; disruption over pacification; and self-critical, Christian solidarity that welcomes differences in belief regarding the justifiability of various means of social change.
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Todd, Julie Marie, "Evaluating Violence and (Non)violence: A Critical, Practical Theology of Social Change" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 652.
Received from ProQuest
Julie Marie Todd
Theology, Peace studies