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TAGS: Community building; Constructionism; Peter Berger; Sociology
LOCATIONS: Sheffield; United Kingdom
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This project takes a constructionist approach, using a case study of the Bahá'ís of Sheffield U.K. and Peter Berger’s conceptual framework of interpreting Baha’i scriptures, to understand how Bahá'ís construct their social reality.
Doctoral thesis in Philosophy, University of Sheffield. Mirrored with permission of author from

Bahá'í Faith and the Construction of Social Reality:
How do Bahá'ís Translate the Word of God into Practice?

by Shahla Mehrgani

About: In this thesis I focus attention on the Baha’i Process of community-building within its periodic context. Towards this aim, I answer the question of how Baha’is translate the word of God into practice to construct their social reality. This project takes a constructionist approach and applies Peter Berger’s conceptual framework to interpret Baha’i scriptures. This study also takes an ethnographic methodology that includes semi-structured interviews as well as observations to study the lived experience of the Bahá’ís in Sheffield. I demonstrate that the stability of the Bahá’í community-building efforts was maintained from 1934 up until 1996. Nonetheless, since 1996, radical shifts have happened in the Bahá’í community, regarding the aims and the means of the community building. In this research I have identified the shifting period of the community-building among the Bahá’ís as deconstruction. The study verifies the changes in community-building have been radical enough to change the nature of the community from an international, institutionalized community into various, similar, local communities spread all around the world. Accordingly, an institutional community aiming to establish a New World Order through the institutes of the Bahá’í Administrative Order is turning into an individual-centred community aiming for the betterment of the world through starting from the neighbourhoods. The study adds to Berger’s conceptual framework for the social construction of reality by introducing the notion of “deconstruction”. Through this research, I will also enrich the literature of the sociology of religion regarding studying Baha’is constructing their desired community based on their interpretations of their holy writings. (from
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