Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Critical Social Policy and Organizational Studies

Faculty/School

Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Lea Caragata, Ph.D.

Advisor Role

Supervisor and Chair

Abstract

By the mid-1990s, the post-war, Keynesian welfare state that had typified much the landscape of service provision in North America had already begun seriously to corrode in the presence of a resurgent classical liberalism. This meant, among other things, an increased role for civil society organisations in the provision of social welfare to citizens in need. As part of this restructuring of the welfare state, faith-based organisations found a renewed place, bolstered in part by favourable legislation, political support, and the revival of a once-recluse evangelicalism. Today, with decades of maturity and the aide of technology, evangelical faith-based organisations are prominent actors in the provision of social welfare all around the world. This has led scholars to suggest or openly call for the investigation of key questions with implications for social work, social welfare, and social policy. Among these key questions, those related to "proselytism" and/or "conversion" have proven to be the most animated, controversial, and pregnant with possibility, both nationally and internationally (e.g., Audet, 2014; Audet, Paquette, & Bergeron, 2013; Cnaan & Boddie, 2002; Harriss, 2014; Sager, 2011; Sherr, Singletary, & Rogers, 2009). Yet these are the questions that remain largely unanswered, particularly in Canada and internationally. This dissertation, therefore, consists of an exploration of "proselytism" and "conversion," which I re-conceptualise here as "religious influence," in evangelical service settings in two countries, Canada and India. The intent was to explore (a) the nature and extent, as well as (b) the outcomes of religious influence in evangelical faith-based organisations and to determine (c) what telling similarities and differences between the two countries and (d) how all of this might have implications for social work, social welfare, and social policy. Overall, the dissertation provides a candid look at religious influence in evangelical service settings, including the way it is and isn't exerted; the hopes and concerns that staff members of faith-based organisations express in sharing faith; the changes religious influence effects in service recipients' lives; the surprising similarities and poignant differences between Canadian and Indian evangelical faith-based organisations; the way these findings bear on social work, welfare, and policy in the present time; the challenges to doing this type of research; and more.

Convocation Year

2018

Convocation Season

Fall

Available for download on Friday, September 03, 2021

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