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Acting as Missionaries: The Religious Self in Intercultural Practice: An Approach from Action Theory and Cultural Psychology

Missionarisches Handeln: Das religiöse Selbst in interkultureller Praxis: Eine handlungstheoretische und kulturpsychologische Untersuchung
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Straub, Jürgen; Arnold, Maik

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Abstract This paper focuses on how young Protestant believers thematize their own lives and themselves in the mode of story-telling. Particular attention is paid to the psychologically relevant functions of story-telling. Narrative biographies are used to explain and analyze the meanings of actions of persons who are involved in doing missionary work, following a tradition influenced by the symbolic action theory and cultural psychology. In addition, because “mission” can mean very different things, the concept and reality of mission in a culturally diverse world – liberated, pluralized, and open to very individualistic life-styles – is addressed in short, revealing an ambiguous picture of the existence and development of religions and worldviews. Subsequently, first rather tentative results of an empirical research project are presented. Some possible meanings of experiences and actions, practices and symbolic representations of those doing missionary work within intercultural contexts are presented and how important their experiences, hopes etc. are for their life stories and their selves. The paper ends with a discussion on the relationship between the activities in question and the concept of “intercultural competence”.
Keywords missionary; missionary work; cultural psychology; social research; action theory; self-image; identity; Protestant; narrative; intercultural factors; intercultural skills; intercultural communication; cultural difference
Classification Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature; Philosophy, Ethics, Religion; Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Psychology
Collection Title Autobiography and the psychological study of religious lives
Editor Belzen, Jacob A.; Geels, Anton
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Publisher Rodopi
City Amsterdam
Page/Pages p. 309-368
Series International Series in the Psychology of Religion, 15
ISBN 978-90-420-2568-4
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications