Engaging Millennials: The strategies and experiences of ... Engaging Millennials: The strategies and

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  • Engaging Millennials: The strategies and

    experiences of Christian social action

    groups in the UK

    Emily Winter

    Department of Sociology

    Lancaster University

    A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of

    Philosophy

  • 1

    Contents Acknowledgments ....................................................................................................................... 6

    Abstract ....................................................................................................................................... 8

    Chapter 1 – Introduction ............................................................................................................ 10

    Chapter 2 – Introducing the Millennials ...................................................................................... 19

    2.1 Characteristics ................................................................................................................................. 20

    2.2 Situational factors ........................................................................................................................... 21

    New technologies and social media ................................................................................................. 21

    Political memory and experience ..................................................................................................... 22

    Emerging adulthood.......................................................................................................................... 23

    Changes to Higher Education ............................................................................................................ 24

    Economic insecurity .......................................................................................................................... 25

    Neoliberalism .................................................................................................................................... 26

    2.3 Introducing my research participants ............................................................................................. 27

    Chapter 3 – Literature review ..................................................................................................... 31

    3.1 Contemporary Christianity and the Millennial generation ............................................................. 36

    3.2 The Millennial generation and socio-political engagement and participation ............................... 43

    3.3 Millennials, Christianity and socio-political engagement ............................................................... 52

    3.4 Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................... 55

    Chapter 4 – Methodology .................................................................................................................... 56

    4.1 Choice and account of methods ..................................................................................................... 56

    Website analysis ............................................................................................................................... 56

    Interviews.......................................................................................................................................... 58

    Pilot interviews .............................................................................................................................. 59

    Choice of semi-structured interviews ............................................................................................ 60

    Sampling ....................................................................................................................................... 60

    Means of interview ....................................................................................................................... 64

    Ethics procedure and ethical considerations ................................................................................. 66

    Gatekeepers and organisational reputation ................................................................................. 71

    4.2 Strengths and limitations of these methods ................................................................................... 73

    Other possible approaches ............................................................................................................... 73

    4.3 Data analysis ................................................................................................................................... 74

    4.4 Personal positioning- between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ .................................................................. 75

    Chapter 5 – Adult-forming: the CARE Leadership Programme and Christian Concern’s Wilberforce

    Academy ............................................................................................................................................... 81

    5.1 Interviewees .................................................................................................................................... 83

  • 2

    5.2 Introducing the organisations ......................................................................................................... 84

    History ............................................................................................................................................... 85

    Issues of concern, vision and ways of operating .............................................................................. 87

    Discourse, worldview and religious positioning ............................................................................... 89

    Young adult programmes- the CARE Leadership Programme and Christian Concern’s Wilberforce

    Academy ........................................................................................................................................... 91

    5.3 Conceptualising and contextualising Christian Concern and CARE ................................................ 93

    5.4 Young adult engagement: the CARE Leadership Programme and Christian Concern’s Wilberforce

    Academy ............................................................................................................................................... 98

    Forming principled leaders: the goals of the Leadership Programme and the Wilberforce Academy

    .......................................................................................................................................................... 98

    Leadership and a focus on careers ................................................................................................ 99

    Being a Christian in public life ..................................................................................................... 100

    Building a network ...................................................................................................................... 101

    Manifestations of these goals ......................................................................................................... 101

    A narrow engagement strategy .................................................................................................. 102

    Appealing to prestige and academic credentials ........................................................................ 104

    Understanding these strategies ...................................................................................................... 107

    5.5 Millennial responses ..................................................................................................................... 108

    Assessing the goals of the programmes ......................................................................................... 109

    Leadership ................................................................................................................................... 109

    Being a Christian in public life ..................................................................................................... 110

    Building a network ...................................................................................................................... 112

    Equipping and empowering ........................................................................................................ 114

    Valuing participation and discussion .............................................................................................. 115

    Nuancing ......................................................................................................................................... 118

    Narratives of change ....................................................................................................................... 124

    Disillusionment from party politics ............................................................................................. 124

    Alternative narratives of change ................................................................................................. 125

    The struggling emergence of new political narratives ................................................................ 128

    Correspondence with the concepts of Bang and Bennett et al. ..................................................... 12