An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World's Largest Amish Community

An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World's Largest Amish Community

Paperback Young Center Books in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies

By (author) Charles E. Hurst, By (author) David L. McConnell

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  • Publisher: JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 376 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 25mm | 45g
  • Publication date: 16 April 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Baltimore, MD
  • ISBN 10: 0801893992
  • ISBN 13: 9780801893995
  • Illustrations note: 4 maps, 39 black & white halftones, 3 black & white line drawings
  • Sales rank: 735,264

Product description

Holmes County, Ohio, is home to the largest and most diverse Amish community in the world. Yet, surprisingly, it remains relatively unknown compared to its famous cousin in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell conducted seven years of fieldwork, including interviews with over 200 residents, to understand the dynamism that drives social change and schism within the settlement, where Amish enterprises and nonfarming employment have prospered. The authors contend that the Holmes County Amish are experiencing an unprecedented and complex process of change as their increasing entanglement with the non-Amish market causes them to rethink their religious convictions, family practices, educational choices, occupational shifts, and health care options. The authors challenge the popular image of the Amish as a homogeneous, static, insulated society, showing how the Amish balance tensions between individual needs and community values. They find that self-made millionaires work alongside struggling dairy farmers; successful female entrepreneurs live next door to stay-at-home mothers; and teenagers both embrace and reject the coming-of-age ritual, rumspringa. An Amish Paradox captures the complexity and creativity of the Holmes County Amish, dispelling the image of the Amish as a vestige of a bygone era and showing how they reinterpret tradition as modernity encroaches on their distinct way of life.

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Author information

Charles E. Hurst is emeritus professor of sociology at The College of Wooster and author of Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences and Living Theory: The Application of Classical Social Theory to Contemporary Life. David L. McConnell is a professor of anthropology at The College of Wooster, coeditor of Soft Power Superpowers: Cultural and National Assets of Japan and the United States, and author of Importing Diversity: Inside Japan's JET Program.

Review quote

Hurst and McConnell's thorough, readable analysis of the world's largest Amish settlement is fascinating from a variety of perspectives... Highly recommended. Choice 2011 Hurst and McConnell, obviously sympathetic to the Amish they study, are to be commended for their extensive research and their careful attention to nuance and exception. -- Robert Brenneman American Journal of Sociology 2011 A number of excellent books have been written about the Amish in recent years and An Amish Paradox joins the ranks of the best of them. A wonderful book. -- Elizabeth C. Cooksey Journal of Contemporary Religion 2011 A number of excellent books have been written about the Amish in recent years and An Amish Paradox joins the ranks of the best of them. Sociologist Charles Hurst and Anthropologist David McConnell not only bring an interdisciplinary expertise to their study, but also an intimate knowledge of the Amish in Ohio's Holmes County Settlement area, as well as a sense of adventure, as they lead theirreaders on a journey through various domains of Amish life. Their presentation is knowledgeable, measured, and thoughtful and their clear and straightforward style of writing takes one through many facets of Amish life in Ohio at a horse and buggy pace-fast enough to cover the territory and maintain one's interest, but slowly enough to point out the changing scenery en route and to really giveone a sense of the complex nuances that make up everyday Amish life. Journal of Contemporary Religion 2011 An Amish Paradox is a richly detailed and highly readable account of one settlement of Amish, perhaps the most visible ethnic religious minority in the United States. It is well-researched and free of jargon... [A] good choice for an advanced course in anthropology or sociology on religion, ethnicity, community, identity, or social change. -- Jonathan G. Andelson Anthropological Quarterly 2011