Proselyting in First-contact Situations as an Instructed Action Cover Image

Proselyting in First-contact Situations as an Instructed Action
Proselyting in First-contact Situations as an Instructed Action

Author(s): Tamah Sherman
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i.
Keywords: missionaries; LDS Church; instructed actions; proselyting; ethnomethodology; conversation analysis

Summary/Abstract: Drawing on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, this study examines the phenomenon of proselyting in first-contact public situations as conducted, learned, continually developed, and reflected by American Mormon missionaries from the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in the Czech Republic, with a focus on first-contact public proselyting (FCPP) encounters. Proselyting is analysed as an instructed action and as a situation in which one party is initially aware of the category of encounter which is to take place, while the other party (or parties) is not, and it is necessary to create the particular type of encounter and then to execute it in some effective and beneficial way as defined by the first party. I examine the types of order to which both parties orient in these situations, i.e. local and extended sequential order, topical order, and categorial order, as they are layered in the doing of the instructed action. The findings demonstrate that, as opposed to the lay perception that religious missionaries simply recite learned passages and phrases in doing their proselyting work, their activities in fact involve complex sequences of communicative work which require the utilisation of experience, tacit knowledge, and creativity. In addition, while it is possible to flesh out and describe a clear sequence of phases in FCPP encounters which, from the outsider’s perspective, constitute proselyting, there is little which otherwise differentiates it from other types of activities involving talk.

  • Issue Year: 46/2010
  • Issue No: 06
  • Page Range: 977-1009
  • Page Count: 33
  • Language: English