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Mormon Commitment Rhetoric

Gary Shepherd and Gordon Shepherd
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 23, No. 2 (Jun., 1984), pp. 129-139
DOI: 10.2307/1386104
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386104
Page Count: 11
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Mormon Commitment Rhetoric
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Abstract

This study analyzes changes in leaders' commitment rhetoric over the 150 year history of the Mormon Church. Categories of commitment are derived from Rosabeth Kanter's study of 19th century utopian groups; these include: sacrifice, investment, renunciation, communion, mortification and transcendence. Commitment rhetoric is measured by calculating "salience scores" based on a content analysis of a representative sample of Mormon General Conference addresses. Major findings are: 1) There are consistent differences in the relative salience of commitment categories, but the ordering of these differences changes over time. 2) Transcendence is by far the most salient category of commitment rhetoric during every period of Mormon history. 3) There is a pronounced curvilinear relationship between all categories of commitment and the passage of time. The historical and theoretical applications of these findings are discussed, particularly with regard to the adaptive transformations of social movements.

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