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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Social Sciences legacy departments
Title: The Student Christian Movement and the Inter-varsity Fellowship: a sociological study of the two student movements
Author(s): Bruce, Steve
Issue Date: 1980
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The thesis considers the career of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) which was founded in 1892 to promote missions and to recruit students for missionary work. As it grew, the SCM extended its operations to the founding and servicing of Christian Unions in colleges and progressively abandoned its evangelical roots and come to play a major part in the development of liberalism and ecumenism. In the nineteen sixties it became more radical than liberal and developed an interest in Marxism and alternative life styles. The career of the conservative evangelical Inter-Varsity Fellowship (IVF), formed as a result of a number of schisms from SCM, is also charted. These two movement organisations are considered in the light of ideas derived from the sociology of social movements. In the Introduction a brief critical account of various dominant theories of social movement origination is presented and elements of an alternative, voluntaristic, and essentially processual account are advanced. The careers of SCM and IVF are used to suggest correctives to a number of theoretical insights that have been developed on the basis of an exaggeration of the division between stable society and social movement. Particular topics dealt with include the growth and spread of social movements, goal transformation, schism and decline. It is argued that the rapid rise of SCM can be understood as resulting from (a) the existence of a wealthy milieu which accepted the movement as legitimate and (b) the SCM's attitude towards its own purpose and ideology which was open and inclusive. This denominationalism allowed the SCM to utilise the resources of the milieu and to recruit rapidly. It also laid the foundation for an erosion of purpose and identity. Many of the problems that promoted the decline of the SCM were caused by the particular nature of its constituency, recruiting as it did among students and experiencing therefore a high membership turnover, but a full understanding of the contrast between the decline of SCM and the stability of lVF requires consideration of the ideologies that informed the two organisations. For this reason the final chapter is concerned with the reasons for the precariousness of liberal protestantism and the strength of conservative evangelicalism.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Applied Social Science
Department of Sociology and Social Policy

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