AuthorOlson, Ernest George.
Committee ChairPhilips, Susan
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study has the principle goal of showing that Christian institutions and practices are powerful forces for social management within the Tongan community, and, more precisely, that congregations are a primary means for facilitating social control, cooperation, competition, and conflict management. My ethnographic research, including discourse analysis, reveals the distinct nature of conflict management in a range of situations within the congregation and community. Comparison of a number of congregations of different denominational affiliation exposes the factionalization as well as the unification within and among congregations. The study of conflict management processes reveals that congregations are the primary institutional social force in Tongan communities are the primary means for organizing labor, distributing resources, and delegating responsibility for a wide range of activities. Congregations' management of conflicts engenders the expression of opposing beliefs and viewpoints within and between congregations, fuels an ongoing process of congregational identity, and furthers the means by which religious groups are agents of cultural transformation in regard to definitions of self, family, kin group, and community.