Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Cassandra White

Abstract

As adulthood looms in an Amish adolescent’s life, he must make a crucial decision that will affect the rest of his life: To be or not to be Amish. Amish teens undergo a ‘coming of age’ rite of passage known as Rumspringa. This experience allows the Amish teen to be cast out in the Non-Amish world of electricity and other vanities. This rite varies among the different orders of the Amish church. Popular television shows and books often sensationalize Amish Rumpringa, but my research among the Amish in 2011 revealed some of the different variations within the Amish church and within families. Although Amish families handle the practices that lead to adulthood differently, often 80-90% of Amish youth join the Amish church. In a world of enticing accessibility, why do Amish youths generally choose a life of simplicity? In this paper, I explore the question concerning this high retention rate within the Amish church based on interviews and participant observation in the community.

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