Power, Conflict, and Spirituality: A Qualitative Study of Faith-based Community Organizing

  • Brian Christens Vanderbilt University
  • Diana L. Jones Vanderbilt University
  • Paul W. Speer Vanderbilt University
Keywords: organizing, power, conflict, empowerment, community, spirituality, civic engagement


Community organizing is a process of garnering power and taking collective action which is often initiated by groups with little individual economic or social power. Through collective action, organizing groups are able to exert influence in societal systems, many times outside or against the direction of existing power structures. As such, conflict is inherent in the community organizing process. The analyses in this article are based on a series of in-depth interviews conducted with highly active members of community organizing that is operated through faith-based institutions. Analyses reveal multiple connections between dimensions of power, conflict, and spirituality. The paper presents these connections and moves toward emergent hypotheses about the functioning of power and conflict in faith-based community organizing. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0801217


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Author Biographies

Brian Christens, Vanderbilt University
Brian CHRISTENS is a PhD student in Community Research & Action at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Brian, Diana, and Paul write and conduct research on development, community psychology, action research, participation, community organizing, and power.
Diana L. Jones, Vanderbilt University
Diana L. JONES ais a PhD student in Community Research & Action at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
Paul W. Speer, Vanderbilt University
Paul W. SPEER is associate professor of Human & Organizational Development at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.