Moral Development in a Developing Economy in Moral Crisis: Evangelical Youth Culture in Contemporary South Africa

Ibrahim Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Utilising ethnographic research into contemporary Evangelical youth
culture in South Africa, this paper critically analyses approaches to the
development of moral subjects in Evangelical youth ministry. After introducing
the moral landscape of South Africa twenty years after the formal
end of the racist apartheid system, the paper then introduces the notion
of “moral capital”, making use of the work of Sharlene Swartz amongst
impoverished youth in Cape Town. Arguing that the nature of contemporary
South African society prevents too instrumental a view of the accumulation
of moral capital amongst young people, the paper analyses
three broad approaches to the development of moral subjects in Evangelical
youth culture and ministry. Approaches focusing on piety seek to
separate material poverty from spiritual practice; approaches focusing on
prosperity seek miraculous gifts of wealth as rewards for personal piety;
and approaches focusing on resilience seek to develop religious subjectivities
capable of withstanding the inequities of contemporary South Africa
without withdrawing from material reality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReliģiski-filozofiski raksti
Pages (from-to)134-145
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5143 Social and cultural anthropology
  • 5141 Sociology

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