Feeling at home? An emotion work perspective on involvement in a Christian youth organization
Maria Zackariasson (Södertörn University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper discusses how the experience of feeling at home and being part of a community may contribute to young people’s choice to be active in a Christian youth organization. It is based on a qualitative study of a Swedish youth organization and the material is analyzed from an emotion work perspective
Paper long abstract:
As this paper will discuss, being active in a religious organization is not something automatically accepted or uncontroversial among young people in Sweden, a society which in several aspects is characterized by a high level of secularization. Still, a number of youths are engaged in Christian youth organizations, even though they do not necessarily come from religiously active homes. What contributes to their choice to become active in this kind of organization and what makes them want to stay active there? These are questions discussed in this paper, which is based on a qualitative research project about young people active in the Christian youth organization Equmenia in Sweden. The results from the project show that the experience of feeling at home, being able to be oneself and being part of a community where they felt everyone was accepted, were significant contributing factors for the youths' will to stay active in the organization. In the paper I use an emotion theoretical approach, with a focus on emotion work and everyday rituals and collective practices, to discuss how such an inclusive atmosphere and feeling of togetherness could be created. But also how such rituals and collective practices at times had the opposite effect, in the sense that they created atmospheres that could contribute to that certain situations and contexts were experienced as strange and unpleasant, and to that the youths felt out of place rather than at home.