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"Dare to struggle, be not afraid": A study of the 'theology of struggle' in the Philippines

Harris, Anne (2000) "Dare to struggle, be not afraid": A study of the 'theology of struggle' in the Philippines. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The 'Theology of Struggle' is the name adopted in 1982 by a significant group of socially concerned Christians in the Philippines who, after experiencing conversion as a result of living and working among the poor, found themselves committed to a new way of 'being' Christian. This new way of being Christian saw church people, over a period of almost three decades, construct new identities, act collectively, and challenge established religious, social, political and cultural understandings. The designation, 'Theology of Struggle' is, however, a misnomer, as the Theology of Struggle is not theological discourse in the traditional sense. The stress is invariably on practical struggle rather than academic theology. Those who joined the struggle felt themselves called to a radical form of commitment: "Makibaka, huwag matakot ": "Dare to struggle, be not afraid"!

My thesis is that the Theology of Struggle is, in fact, a movement of social, religious and political consequence. Social movement theory is employed in this study to analyse and elucidate the development and significance of the Theology of Struggle: why it arose; what networks and recruitment practices led to the production of shared beliefs; how did collective action and cycles of protest emerge and dissipate; and what were its outcomes? In the process, this study also grapples with broader related issues: the construction of identity and meaning; the patterns of domination and resistance; and the importance of religion within collective action.

Drawing on interviews and the writings of those involved in the Theology of Struggle as well as social movement theory, this study examines the role played by this group of activist Christians in the ongoing struggle for social justice in the Philippines and, in doing so, aims to demonstrate the significance and limitations of the Theology of Struggle as a social movement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Graham, Helen
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