Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leslie Irvine

Second Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn

Third Advisor

Janet Jacobs

Fourth Advisor

Ross Haenfler

Fifth Advisor

Patti Adler


This research examines how a faith-based simple living organization and its members, Simple Livers, navigate and give meaning to the idea of living a simple lifestyle within the context of their religious faith. Analyzing data from four years of participant observation, interviews, and textual analysis of organizational documents and drawing from symbolic interaction and social movement literature, especially the literature on lifestyle movements, I describe the ways Simple Livers produce and negotiate individual and organizational identities situated within systems of religion, race, class, gender and emotions. I examine the interplay of emotions with Christian and voluntary simplicity ideologies, which creates an over-conforming moral self, a distinctive identity that is rooted in the belief that a Simple Liver should be more moral than the general population. I also discuss participants’ boundary work and describe an intragroup boundary crisis, a situation that occurs when groups cannot create or maintain an organizational identity because of conflicting inclusive and exclusive boundaries at the individual level.

Included in

Sociology Commons