Diversification as Institutional Maintenance: Coordinating Racial Diversification in an American Protestant Denomination

Sorcha Alexandrina Brophy, University of Chicago

Attaining the “badge of diversity” enables organizations to signal that they are attuned to societal values such as inclusion, and to hold symbolic leverage over competitor organizations. Religious organizations in particular are increasingly seeking to accumulate technical knowledge about fostering racial and ethnic diversity in order to demonstrate their concern with evangelism and community outreach. In this paper, I make use of an organizational lens to investigate one Protestant denomination’s diversification efforts. I argue that members face challenges because they must negotiate the relationship of diversification efforts to the “project” of maintaining the institution of the church over time. In order to successfully connect diversification efforts to institutional maintenance, they must rely on ideological coordination strategies to move beyond potentially incompatible perspectives on race.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 186. Religion in Social Movements