'Value Added'? Faith-Based Organisations and the delivery of social services to marginalised groups in the UK: a case study of the Salvation Army
Orchel, Katharine Anne
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Contains sensitive information. I would like to publish papers from the thesis.
This thesis explores the ways in which Christian faith ‘adds value’ to the ‘carescape’ and ‘caringscapes’ of statutory hostels for people experiencing homelessness in the United Kingdom. The ways that a distinctively Christian organisational ethos is created and experienced through the material, regulatory and performative dimensions of space, place and subjectivity, are explored through a case study of the Salvation Army’s contemporary statutory accommodation services for single homeless people. Drawing upon Cloke’s notions of ‘theo-ethics’ and Conradson’s concept of ‘therapeutic landscape experience’, the links between spirituality, care and ‘value added’ are examined from the perspective of staff, volunteers and service users. This analysis extends the debate on the potential for faith-based organisations to make a distinctive and valuable contribution to care for people experiencing homelessness, by foregrounding the spiritual and emotional dimensions that texture these organisational landscapes of care. A feminist epistemological approach is taken to illuminate the nuances of care-giving and care-receiving, with particular attention paid to the emotional and spiritual sensitivities underpinning social interactions, and how these dimensions are perceived, narrated and experienced from a variety of perspectives. Using an ethnographic methodology, this study involved the undertaking of 91 semi-structured interviews, a six-week period of participant observation in a specific Salvation Army Lifehouse, and attendance at four professional social service and chaplaincy conferences run by the Salvation Army UK. The research findings suggest that Christianity adds value to these institutional spaces of care in a highly nuanced way, dependent on one’s subjectivity. A second observation is that the potential for faith to add value within statutory arenas of care for the homeless is being compromised due to the pressures associated with the incumbent neoliberal contract culture within which Lifehouses are embedded. A third contribution concerns the potential for a faith-based organisation to act as a crucible for the emergence of postsecular rapprochement: it is suggested that an intersectional approach to analysing this socio-spatial process is necessary, due to the strategic role that gender, age, sexuality and race were revealed to play in fostering, or dissipating, the affective relationships that underpinned fragile moments of rapprochement.
The Salvation Army UK
PhD in Geography