Journal Article

Human Agency in Mission Work: Missionary Styles and Their Political Consequences

H. B. Cavalcanti

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 66, issue 4, pages 381-398
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712387
Human Agency in Mission Work: Missionary Styles and Their Political Consequences

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One has to go beyond the structural determinants of mission work to understand how human agency affects religion diffusion across cultures. Missionaries personalize their faith for local converts, and in so doing they reproduce religious conditions akin to those of their own experience. These personal schemas for appropriating the faith exemplify the way human agency interplays with organizational settings in cross-cultural situations to create unique missionary styles. This interplay of agency and structure helps set the local parameters for transplanted denominations, as they in turn interact in unexpected ways with the host culture. The result is a spectrum of missionary styles. This paper explores the end poles of that spectrum, the diffusion and the acculturation styles and their unique consequences in terms of mission outcomes.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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