Not Just a Copy: Young Adults' Perspectives on Reconstructing Religion

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Thumb, Johannah

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University of Guelph


This thesis examines the experiences of young adults who were raised in conservative Christian households through a dialectical transactional perspective. Existing research on religious socialization is based on unidirectional transmission models that assume children are passive recipients of parents’ religious messages and models. This study sought to explore how young adults represent and evaluate their early upbringing; their descriptions of present internalization; and the sources of change in the internalization process. Sixteen young adults aged 18-25 years participated in qualitative semi-structured interviews. The transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings of this study contribute to new understandings of how young adults act as interpretive active agents in the internalization of religious models and messages. In contrast to assumptions of existing research, young adults demonstrated their active agency through challenging religious messages, constructing their acceptance and interpreting messages from their ecology of models.



religion, religious socialization, emerging adults, young adults, internalization, values, working models, dialectical, social relational theory, Christianity, fundamentalism, Bidirectionality, reconstruction, agency, qualitative