Foster Kamanga

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Publication Date



This study was undertaken to explore the perceptions of adult Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) about the ways in which JWs balance the tension between their religious beliefs and public school activities in the Pioneer Valley.

The researcher collected data from seven in-depth interviews with one teacher, five witness former students and one adult, one focus group discussion with six mothers, participant observation and document reviews. Data collection (with interviews lasting from 50-70 minutes) took place during the summer of 2015 in Amherst.

Familial socialization, church-based dramas and speeches and bible studies prepare Witnesses children on how to behave or respond to daily questions, discussions or other public high school activities in the Pioneer Valley. For example, witnesses' children are required to memorize responses on why they: believe in creation rather than evolution, and do not observe and/or celebrate birthdays, Easter and Christmas holidays. While the church seems optimistic about their high school children behaving according to this socialization, this study finds some of the children simultaneously using dominant and non-dominant cultural capitals following pressure by their peers and teachers. For example, some Witnesses students reported intentionally hiding and/or discrediting their beliefs at school. After returning home, some witnesses' children adjust back to the approved behavior. The study illuminates the various ways in which the students adjust according to their environment.