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American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176864

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176864.001.0001

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Dying Young

Dying Young

Immigrant Congregations as Moral Communities

(p.135) Chapter Five Dying Young
American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability

Robert Wuthnow

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the role that religion played—and how that role changed—as immigrants assimilated into American culture. Although the question has been examined many times and from many different angles, relatively little attention has focused on the tensions that often developed between the supportive roles congregations performed for their members and the conflicts that emerged within and among congregations as ethnic traditions evolved. How congregations dealt with these tensions and how they maintained solidarity were integral to how they functioned as moral communities. And that in turn provides an important perspective from which to understand the role that respectability played in the nineteenth century. Immigrant congregations supported their members' sense of being respectable, God-fearing Americans while adhering to distinctive beliefs and practices that also put them at risk of being perceived as outsiders.

Keywords:   immigration, immigrants, congregations, American culture, religion, middle class, nineteenth century, respectability

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