Immigrant clergy in the promised land

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Sari Biklen



Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology


This study seeks to examine the circumstances and issues related to the immigration experience of professional clergy who immigrate to the United States for the purpose of practicing their profession. The intent of this research was to fully explore the experience of nine immigrant clergy and their spouses, to understand coping strategies that are common among such professional people, and to provide an understanding of the meaning to these people of immigrating and doing ministry in a foreign culture. The qualitative research methods of in-depth interviewing and participant observation were utilized for the project over the course of 2 years. The interviews were unstructured, in an effort to gain rapport and to give immigrant clergy and their spouses the opportunity to articulate exactly how they understood their experience. The conceptual paradigm of symbolic interactionism was employed to analyze the data. The author recognizes that this conclusion may only be viable from the experience of these nine couples. Despite the fact that informants for this study experienced much personal and professional chaos, the goals of the receiving organizations were not met. Therefore the writer submits that religious organizations select and train leaders from among immigrants rather than transferring clergy to the United States.


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