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Religion and Revolutionary We‐Ness: Religious Discourse, Speech Acts, and Collective Identity in Prerevolutionary Nicaragua

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Building on language as action perspectives and recent social movement research on speech acts, we explore the role religious discourse plays in the maintenance of a collective identity we call revolutionary “we‐ness.” Using NVivo qualitative data analysis software we perform a content analysis of Volume 1 of The Gospel in Solentiname (Cardenal 1976), a historical record of Biblestudy discussions in prerevolutionary Nicaragua. Based on a framework of collective identity construction (boundary work, oppositional consciousness, identity assertion) into which a taxonomy of speech acts (accusations, declarations, directives, exhortations, prescriptions, and warnings) are organized, our content analysis illustrates how revolutionary we‐ness is constituted, and how the recursive employment of speech acts suggests a resonance of ideological motives in religious discourse. We found the degree to which identity assertion, expressed in declarative speech acts, predominated over oppositional consciousness, which in turn figured over boundary work in the constitution of revolutionary we‐ness. Our speech acts approach fills a void in framing theory and confirms religious discourse's capacity to promote radical self‐understandings and commitment to revolutionary activism.
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Keywords: liberation theology; religious discourse; revolutionary we‐ness; speech acts

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2015

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