Singing the Gospel, Forging the Ties That Bind? Ethnographic Study of a Youth Gospel Choir
How do religious practices forge meaningful social bonds? Building on the provocative claim (Putnam and Campbell 2010) about religious social ties leading to better citizenship, I analyze one of the most common American religious practices choral singing to explore how ties are formed. An ethnographic study of a youth gospel choir reveals that the collective emotional experience of making music, the shared understandings of religious narratives in songs‘ lyrics, the ritual of performance in church services, and repeated co-presence in the sacred space of the church building create strong bonds among church members. Gospel choir singing binds youth to the organization of the church and symbolically to the local and global black community.
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