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Title: Koinonia and anachoresis : an exploration of the concept and practice of simple living as a Christian response to consumerism
Author: Valerio, Ruth
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis aims to provide an answer to the question of how one lives well as a Christian in consumer society by looking at the concept of simple living and considering what resources it has to offer. That we live in a society shaped by consumerism is not contested. How that consumerism unfolds, however, and how a Christian is to respond to those forces, is widely debated. Consumerism poses a number of significant challenges to the Christian believer and those who attempt to practice some form of simplicity would claim that this furnishes them with a way of meeting and counteracting those challenges. Although works on consumerism abound, both the concept and practice of simplicity have received scant attention in academic circles. This thesis seeks to make a small step in filling that lacuna. Using both quantitative and qualitative research, the thesis is based on a substantial piece of empirical research focussed on a self-styled, ‘simpler living’ Christian network, called Breathe. The research is designed to explore a nexus of issues around what sort of person is involved with Breathe; what they think simplicity is; in what ways they see the decisions they are making as responding to consumerism, and what relationship this has to their faith. What becomes clear is that the attempts of the Breathe members to simplify their lives are not undertaken as a whim, but emanate from clear ideological convictions. Arising from the results of this research, the thesis thus considers how Breathe has emerged from the intersection of a number of different discursive frameworks – global, political, cultural and ecclesiological – and seeks to unpack these. The final section of the thesis takes the research findings and looks to provide a theological articulation for what Breathe members are trying to do, with the aim of moving towards developing a theology of simplicity. As a part of this, we consider a series of tensional relationships that Breathe members live within and we then develop a theological framework to enable us to make sense of what is taking place. The long tradition of discussion around happiness and well-being associated with Aristotle and Aquinas is drawn on as we develop an understanding of simplicity as a justice-focussed eudaimonist ethic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available