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Gender attitudes amongst Anglo-Catholic and evangelical clergy in the Church of England: An examination of how male priests respond to women’s ordination as priests and their consecration as bishops.

FRY, ALEX,DAVID,JAMES (2019) Gender attitudes amongst Anglo-Catholic and evangelical clergy in the Church of England: An examination of how male priests respond to women’s ordination as priests and their consecration as bishops. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 06 February 2023.

Abstract

The Church of England has historically prevented women from holding various positions of power within its hierarchy, a phenomenon that has not been undermined with the advent of women bishops. Nevertheless, little research has been conducted on male clergy attitudes towards women since before women were permitted to be ordained as deacons in 1987. There has also been little research on the social factors that shape such attitudes to date. This is a significant gap in scholarship given that the Church of England is a male dominated institution and that male clergy have therefore been central to the process of denying women the same opportunities in the Established Church as men.

Responding to these issues, this thesis explores historical, sociological, and psychological influences on male clergy attitudes towards gender. It is based on a thematic narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews with forty-one priests from the evangelical and Anglo-Catholic traditions of the Church of England.

In order to understand the various social factors that shape male clergy attitudes, participants’ narratives have been brought into dialogue with the historical developments that have led to women’s ordination as deacons and priests, and their consecration as bishops in the Established Church. This thesis also draws on the sociological theories of engaged orthodoxy, social capital, and spiritual capital, as well as psychological theories of prejudice, intergroup contact, and identity in order to further interpret clergy narratives.

This thesis concludes that the attitudes towards gender that male clergy possess are shaped by their chosen religious traditions because through them they inherit specific ways of thinking about gender roles. It then builds on this to argue that those who inherit traditions that object to women’s ordination oppose it because the presence of women priests and bishops is perceived to be a threat to their contingent self-esteem.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Gender; evangelicalism; sexism; Church of England; Anglo-Catholic; Reform; Forward in Faith; self-esteem
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2019 13:32

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