Hutterite defectors : a qualitative assessment of Ebaugh's role-exit model

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Rich, Mona Sharon
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The aim of this study is to test Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh's role-exit model on the experience of Hutterite defectors, and to provide an updated, sociological understanding of Hutterite defectors based on a coherent theoretical model. The analysis was conducted using the 4 stages and 11 variables of Ebaugh's generic role-exit model. In addition, a sociological model of Hutterite society (developed by Boldt and Roberts) was included to carry out the analysis. This model represents Hutterite society as a relatively undifferentiated and structurally tight group. A qualitative methodological approach was employed to study the role-exit experience of 28 Hutterite defectors from Manitoba colonies. The stages and variables of the role-exit model were translated into semi-structured, open ended interview questions. In general terms, it was found that Ebaugh's role-exit model fit the experience of Hutterite defectors. However, it was also discovered that several hypotheses regarding the variables of duration and reversibility/irreversibility did not apply to the case of Hutterites. Also, the findings of this study discovered that individuals are abandoning their colonies as a direct result of their religious concerns. The findings also indicated that defection was not limited to young, single males as it was in the past but also included young, single females as well as entire families. The interchange between the colony and the outside emerged as a crucial factor in exposing and fostering new perspectives and attitudes in Hutterites.