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OPERATIONALIZING OPPORTUNITIES AND CREATING PUBLICS IN SALVADORAN CHURCHES: FINDINGS FROM AN ETHNOGRAPHIC PROCESS EVALUATION

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Abstract

This article explores how one faith-based nonprofit organization and its various Pentecostal and evangelical church partners in El Salvador are creating associational contexts within which local community development projects are identified and implemented. Observational and interview data derived from a process evaluation of a project identification exercise are examined to explore how different community and organizational stakeholders attempt to implement local development initiatives that will presumably build on local assets and associations. The study details the patterns of participation that emerged as members of local churches negotiated with their neighbors over how to best direct social change in their community. Corresponding analysis of interview data portrays how these same actors relied on diverse social logics—which are both religious and practical in nature—to make sense of and assess some of the key assumptions of a particular form of faith-based development. The case is a good example of how faith-based organizations play key roles in the formation of publics, wherein actors from diverse networks come together to deliberate over the aims and outcomes of local development projects in contemporary El Salvador.

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