Marriage in a British Evangelical Congregation: Practising Postfeminist Partnership?

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Abstract

This article explores understandings and practices of marriage in a congregation from the growing British evangelical Christian movement New Frontiers International (NFI). It investigates how those who subscribe to evangelical religion interact with the gendered ideas and behaviour of the more ‘secular’ society they inhabit. The data for this research are drawn from participant observation and interviews with members of the congregation. These are situated in the context of the official discourse of NFI and of contemporary debates about the move to individualized partnership. It is argued that though these evangelicals claim to shape their marriages according to ‘biblical’ patterns, they in fact reflect the partnership practices of their less religious peers. Building on work by Stacey and McRobbie, patterns of marriage and heterosexual partnership in contemporary Britain are conceptualized as ‘postfeminist’; the article locates within this framework NFI's declared – and undeclared – marriage practices. It finds that while they are somewhat more conservative than their ‘secular’ peers, NFI evangelicals are indeed practising postfeminist partnership. Observations are also offered on the impact of religion on people's ability to live out individualized partnerships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638–657
JournalMarriage in a British Evangelical Congregation: Practising Postfeminist Partnership?
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006

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title = "Marriage in a British Evangelical Congregation: Practising Postfeminist Partnership?",
abstract = "This article explores understandings and practices of marriage in a congregation from the growing British evangelical Christian movement New Frontiers International (NFI). It investigates how those who subscribe to evangelical religion interact with the gendered ideas and behaviour of the more ‘secular’ society they inhabit. The data for this research are drawn from participant observation and interviews with members of the congregation. These are situated in the context of the official discourse of NFI and of contemporary debates about the move to individualized partnership. It is argued that though these evangelicals claim to shape their marriages according to ‘biblical’ patterns, they in fact reflect the partnership practices of their less religious peers. Building on work by Stacey and McRobbie, patterns of marriage and heterosexual partnership in contemporary Britain are conceptualized as ‘postfeminist’; the article locates within this framework NFI's declared – and undeclared – marriage practices. It finds that while they are somewhat more conservative than their ‘secular’ peers, NFI evangelicals are indeed practising postfeminist partnership. Observations are also offered on the impact of religion on people's ability to live out individualized partnerships.",
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AB - This article explores understandings and practices of marriage in a congregation from the growing British evangelical Christian movement New Frontiers International (NFI). It investigates how those who subscribe to evangelical religion interact with the gendered ideas and behaviour of the more ‘secular’ society they inhabit. The data for this research are drawn from participant observation and interviews with members of the congregation. These are situated in the context of the official discourse of NFI and of contemporary debates about the move to individualized partnership. It is argued that though these evangelicals claim to shape their marriages according to ‘biblical’ patterns, they in fact reflect the partnership practices of their less religious peers. Building on work by Stacey and McRobbie, patterns of marriage and heterosexual partnership in contemporary Britain are conceptualized as ‘postfeminist’; the article locates within this framework NFI's declared – and undeclared – marriage practices. It finds that while they are somewhat more conservative than their ‘secular’ peers, NFI evangelicals are indeed practising postfeminist partnership. Observations are also offered on the impact of religion on people's ability to live out individualized partnerships.

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