Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
Chapter 7: The Effects of Methodism on Entrepreneurship
Anne White INTRODUCTION In 1912 sociologist and anthropologist Emile Durkheim published a seminal work entitled The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.1 In this work, Durkheim detailed a theory which identified a pattern of organization consistent within all human societies and which he named Structural Functionalism. Durkheim’s theory described society as being built upon order which incorporated interrelationship and balance among the various parts of its constitution as a means of maintaining the smooth functioning of the whole. He argued that the construction and identity of any given society is based on shared norms and values as the basis of existence. Further, social order was established based on tacit agreements, or consensus of opinion, between groups and organizations within the main system. The structural functionalist perspective also recognized that it was necessary to incorporate change into communal and individual structure as part of an indispensible process through which correction of imbalance or social dysfunction could take place. Ideally, this change or adaptation should occur slowly so that people and institutions could adapt without rapid disorder. From a structural functionalist perspective the development and contribution of the Methodist movement is a fascinating study in group dynamics, change, innovation and adaptability. Due to its organizational structure and emphasis on journal keeping, Methodist historical records provide a wealth of research information into the formation and dynamics of its goal orientation or spiritual journey. In keeping with Durkheim’s theory, the Methodist community can be identified through the following structural patterns: (i) throughout its variety of...
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