The Everyday Lived Experiences of Faith and Development: An Ethnographic Study of the Christian Faith Community in Ayigya, Ghana

  • Jemima Clarke

Student thesis: Phd


After decades of marginalisation, there is a resounding assertion that 'faith matters' in development. A growing body of evidence suggests that religion promotes developmental values of social justice, equity, and compassion for the poor, it shapes people's identities and is an important source of welfare provision. Nevertheless, studies on faith and development have been restricted to the instrumental approach; a developmentalised version of religion which biases faith based organisations and other formalised organisations that conform to the mainstream development agenda. This thesis departs from the instrumentalisation of faith to a lived religion approach and sees development as 'inherent' in what religions do. It explores how a Christian faith community (CFC) in Ayigya, Ghana lives and experiences its faith in the everyday. It considers how these experiences shape and construct both the wellbeing aspirations and achievements of the CFC. The research adopts an ethnographic methodology to investigate the wellbeing experiences of the CFC. This consisted of the profiling of the CFC, qualitative interviewing (in-depth, semi structured, conversational and focus group discussions), participant observation and faith dairies.This study finds that the CFC offers a rich associational life for its members; one that constructs what wellbeing is and one that contributes significantly to how wellbeing is achieved. As such, for many the CFC has replaced the role of the state in social service delivery and welfare provision. The CFC provides a compelling wellbeing narrative that is congruent with both traditional norms and values and modern neoliberal discourses, that shapes the wellbeing aspirations of its members. The CFC also supplies its members with a social and spiritual capital, but most pertinently a divine agency to translate these wellbeing aspirations into achievements.This study contributes to the alternative development literature; it proposes that a lived religion and multidimensional subjective wellbeing approach is well suited to understanding the complex processes involved in the wellbeing narratives of faith communities in the global South.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAdmos Chimhowu (Supervisor) & Mohammad Farhad Hossain (Supervisor)


  • Religion and Development
  • Faith and Development
  • Wellbeing

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