Negotiating the Tension Between the Discourses of Christianity and Spiritual Pluralism in Alcoholics Anonymous

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Abstract:

This study employs dialogism theory and relational dialectics theory as sensitizing concepts to understand how meaning emerges as members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) negotiate the tension between two religious discourses: Christianity and spiritual pluralism. Focus groups consisting of 32 AA members revealed instances of emergent meaning as the participants negotiated the dialectical tension between these discourses by employing four strategies: (a) centering and muting; (b) eliding tension through ambiguity; (c) inverting discourses; and (d) hybridity. Close analysis of the enactment of these strategies reveals how participants construct meaning while engaging the interplay of these discourses. The usefulness of this study for alcoholism treatment, public-health agencies, and individuals seeking treatment for alcohol abuse is discussed.

Keywords: Alcoholism; Bakhtin; Dialogism Theory; Relational Dialectics Theory; Religion

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2011.608694

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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