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Title page for ETD etd-03302012-130303


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McCormack, Mark Merritt
Author's Email Address mark.m.mccormack@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03302012-130303
Title "Like Water and Oil": Religious Threat and Prejudice in the American South
Degree Master of Science
Department Community Research and Action
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Paul R. Dokecki Committee Chair
Paul W. Speer Committee Member
Keywords
  • Integrated Threat Theory
  • American South
  • Prejudice
  • Religion
Date of Defense 2012-03-30
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Recent studies have highlighted the religious prejudices that plague communities across the United States and act as social, political, and economic barriers for many religious minority groups. These studies have noted the pervasive negative attitudes towards such American religious minorities as Muslims, atheists, Mormons, and Jews. Further, these prejudices appear to be more pronounced in the American South, a phenomenon that remains under–examined. The present study suggests the importance of and takes aim at uncovering and analyzing the social processes undergirding religious prejudices in the U.S., and of religious prejudices in the American South specifically. The study draws on qualitative data collected from eight communities across the state of Tennessee over a period of three years. My analysis of these data, first, adds in–depth qualitative insight in an area of research where experimental and quantitative methods predominate. Building from threat–based theories of prejudice, I utilize critical discourse analysis to delve more deeply into the ways in which prejudices are uniquely framed and expressed by social actors within a specific socio–historical milieu. Specifically, I pay attention to the common idioms, stories, and caricatures that are part of the discursive lexicon mobilized by residents as they encounter the religious other. Finally, I suggest that this analysis has important implications for dialogue and interventions surrounding religious differences and conflicts. The concept of the dialogic community will be highlighted as a particularly promising response to these conflicts.
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