Att bli, att vara och att ha varit : Om ingångar i och utgångar ur Jehovas vittnen

Sammanfattning: This dissertation seeks to describe and investigate the entering and leaving of a highly structured and hierarchical religious community, exemplified in this case by the Jehovah's Witnesses. The respondents in this study were chosen from both active members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Sweden and those who have left the organisation for personal reasons. Repeated interviews with ten active members of the organisation have been conducted in the course of the study and compared to equal numbers of former members. The interviews have been semi-structured to deal with questions of how a person has come into contact with the organisation; how they retrospectively experienced the process of entry; the reasons for becoming a member. Questions have also been asked about life in the organisation. The group of "exiters" have also been asked about the experience of leaving, why they wanted to leave, and how this process was started and carried out. In addition to this I have analysed a four-year diary describing the time inside and the process of leaving the organisation. This has given me an extra psychological insight into the inner experience of someone who has gone through the whole process. The analysis has been done by categorising the content of the transcribed interviews. The analysis of the diary has involved thorough reading, resulting in a division of it into four different parts, where each part has been given a certain key-word, signifying the author's emotional state when writing it. A person converting as an adult has to pass six phases before being considered a Jehovah's Witness by the organisation. These are: Contact with the Jehovah's Witnesses, studying the bible with members of the organisation, questioning, accepting, being active as publisher (spreading the belief), being baptised. For a person brought up in the organisation, the process to full membership is much shorter: Upbringing in the organisation, taking a stand on the belief, being baptised. The exit process contains of seven phases: Different levels of doubts, testing of doubts, turning points, different kinds of decisions, different steps in executing the decisions, floating, a period of emotional and cognitive consideration of membership and its experiences, relative neutrality.

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