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Growing up within a Religious Community: A Case Study of Finnish Adventist Youth

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Utilising an ecological framework, this study presents a meta-analysis of four sub-studies investigating the socialisation experiences of young people affiliated with a religious minority community. More precisely, it is a study of how this particular socialisation context affects the individual's construction of a personal value system and religious identity and how the developing person interacts with his/her environment. Seventh-day Adventism in Finland is the context for this case study. The research adopts an educational perspective on religious socialisation, placing a special emphasis on youth as the phase during which values and memberships are negotiated and constructed with increasing independence from parental values and opinions. The mixed-method study includes both quantitative and qualitative data sets (3 surveys: n=106 young adults, n=100 teenagers, n=55 parents; and 2 sets of interviews: n=10 young adults and n=10 teenagers).

Results indicate that the religious community has an important influence on these young people's religious socialisation, both in terms of commitment to denominational values and lifestyle and in providing a religious identity and anchoring them in the social network of the denomination. Furthermore, the network of the religious community generates important social resources (or social capital) for both the youth and their families, with tangible as well as intangible benefits and bridging and bonding effects. However, the study also illustrates the sometimes difficult negotiations that young people face as teenagers in negotiating between differentiation and belonging, when there is tension between the values of a minority group and those of the larger society and one wants to — and does — belong to both. It also demonstrates the many different ways one can choose and yet find a personally meaningful way of being an Adventist.

Affiliations: 1: University of Helsinki, Finland


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