Mrs Joanne M. McKenzie
My research seeks to explore how evangelical identity is shaped by social class. In the last century, English evangelicalism developed and thrived predominantly amongst the middle classes; however, in contemporary evangelicalism, there have been attempts to establish new congregations amongst the urban poor and working classes. Utilising this development, the principal method will be a comparative ethnographic study of an established 'flagship' evangelical congregation and of one or more new congregations that are seeking to engage outside of the middle classes.
Conceptual work on social class will be undertaken, with particular attention given to the cultural dimensions of social class, and this used to develop theoretical frameworks which will be applied in ethnographic study. Fieldwork will be undertaken to explore how the differences between the congregations relate to social class, and how class and evangelical subcultural identities may interact, overlap, dominate, or challenge and contest one another. Research will be done on the historical development of evangelicalism and its class context, and fieldwork findings will be located within current evangelical debates on class.
It is hoped that the focus on the significant, but arguably neglected, variable of social class will contribute to understanding the formation and evolution of evangelical identity, and provide an addition to the developing field of congregational studies.