Public and Proud: Civil Religion in America and 911 Open Access

Wilson, William Wyatt (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ns064658d?locale=en
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Abstract


Abstract
Public and Proud: Civil Religion in America and 911
By W. Wyatt Wilson
Civil religion is a social phenomenon most widely understood as a Judeo-
Christian tradition interfaced with social and political conditions within the American
landscape. The civil religion product is made observable through postmodern theory
and a thorough understanding of how social factors condition religion. With these
suppositions, particularly postmodern framework, ethnography offers a prime avenue
to document civil religion. In this study, 12 participants were interviewed in an effort
to compile 12 detailed and revelatory narratives concerning the events that happened
on September 11th, 2001. Each oral history was transcribed in full with the guidance
of an Introspective Journal. After interviews were completed, conceptual categories
were generated by grouping consistent and recurring phrases in a framework built by
Grounded Theory. Conclusively, 8 categories were generated, each demonstrating a
different aspect of the American civil religion experience. These categories
demonstrated modes of American epistemologies and identity that related to the
normative American vision endowed during the nation's emergence in the 18th
century. The categories also demonstrate an valuable process that uncovers lived
religion in the United States.
Furthermore, since these values were not strict reiterations of colonial
American beliefs, they represent a negotiation between present, past and future
values. This aspect illuminates the socially malleable nature surrounding the civil
religious paradigm. Additionally, while the interviews mainly concerned 911 and
terror, they demonstrate how antagonistic situations at large provide a fertile arena in
which civil religion can thrive.

Table of Contents

Contents
Introduction............................................................................................................... 1
I. Investigating the Sacred: Documenting Civil Religion in America
Part I - The Problem with Western "Religion"……………………………………..…. 9
Diagram 1………………………………………………………………………………… 20
Diagram 2……………………………………………………………………………….. 28
Part II - The Religious Civilian in America………………………………………….…. 18
Part III - 9/11/2001…………………………………………………………………………….. 25
II. More Than a Black Swan: Social Science Research and Grounded
Theory
Introduction…………………………………………………………………..………….………… 30
Part I - Grounded Theory…….……………………………………………………………….. 30
Part II - Theory Versus Replication……………………………………………………….. 33
Part III - Methodology…………………………………………………………………...……. 43
III. A Tour of Ethnography: Research Findings and Discussion
Introduction……………………………………………………………………………….……….. 47
Part I - Procedure……………………………………………………………...…………………. 48
Part II - Results…………………………………………………………..……………...……….. 54
Part III - Discussion……………………………………………….……………………………… 57
i. Questions………………………………………………………………………..……… 58
ii. Categories………………………………………………………………….………….. 65
iii. Quantitative Spreadsheet………………………………………………...……. 68
iv. Trends and Anomalies…………………..………………………….…………… 68
Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………….……………….. 72
References…………………………………………………………………………………………………….… 75
Appendix I……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 78
Appendix II…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 88
Appendix III………………………………………………………………………………………..………… 114

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