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Discipleship and desire : conservative evangelicals, coherence and the moral lives of the metropolis

Strhan, Anna (2021) Discipleship and desire : conservative evangelicals, coherence and the moral lives of the metropolis. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86508) (KAR id:86508)


This thesis is an ethnographic study of the everyday religious lives of conservative evangelical Christians in London. Conservative evangelicalism has attracted increased public attention in recent years as a number of Christian groups have become increasingly visible in arguing that Christians are being marginalized in British society as their lifestyles are threatened by universalizing processes associated with modernization. Seeking to move beyond simplistic stereotypes of evangelicals that arise from polarizing media narratives, I explore how members of a large conservative evangelical congregation experience and fmd ways of negotiating concerns, uncertainties and human frailties that shape

social life more broadly. My central argument is that their experience of God as coherent and transcendent, mediated through word-based practices, both responds to and intensifies their consciousness of internal moral fragmentation, binding them more closely in their sense of dependence on God and each other. Situated in debates about subjectivity and modernity in the sociology of religion, the anthropology of Christianity and urban theory, I analyse how conservative evangelicals faith is patterned through their being shaped as modern, urban subjects according to nonns of interaction internalized outside the church and their development of moral and temporal orientations that rub against these. Their self-identification as 'aliens and strangers in this world thus, I argue, both articulates and constructs a desire to be different within the metropolitan contexts they inhabit, rooted in a consciousness of the extent to which their habituated modes of practice, hopes and longings are simultaneously shaped by their being in the world. I demonstrate how focusing on both their embodied, word-based practices and their experience of the personality of God helps develop understanding of this form of religious intersubjectivity and its social effects, and

argue that this approach opens up new avenues for understanding evangelicalism, lived religion and everyday ethical practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86508
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: evangelical Christians; morality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:55 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2021 14:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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