Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Dorothy Finnegan


This historical case study of Eastern Mennonite University faculty between 1965 and 2000 explored the shifts in social bonds, examined through the concept of ritual (Collins, 2004), concurrent with cultural, social, environmental, and professional forces that impacted the institution. Employing the concepts of cohesion (as the specific other) and solidarity (as the general other) (Mead, 1934) provided a distinction between individual relational networks and the shared ideological commitments that bound faculty together.;Results of the study demonstrated the significance of intrinsic motivators on faculty hiring, persistence, and perceptions of institutional purpose and employment desirability. Physical space (as the place of assembly) and metaphysical space (as the sense of relational or conceptual connection) emerged as significant frames to understand social bond change. Physical faculty dispersal due to campus sprawl contributed to a reduced sense of relational closeness, making opportunities for cross-disciplinary social and task interaction increasingly important.;The terms of social bonds changed concurrent with the shift from strong to weak ties (Granovetter, 1973; Lindenberg, 1998). The strongly-tied religious, educational, and ethnic Mennonite community of the 1960s contained many mutually-reinforcing rituals. The shift toward weak ties was brought on by the professionalization and diversification of faculty, the reinterpretation of Mennonite values and beliefs, and other internal and external forces. The effect was a de-emphasis on ethnic Mennonite rituals as the source of cohesion, and an increased emphasis on educational task rituals. However, social connections established despite difference provided significant new bases for solidarity and cohesion in a professionalized religious community.



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