Much previous work on Intentional Communities (ICs) tends to fail to fully
understand such social forms due to an over-emphasis on the division between
theory and practice. One possible methodological route out of this impasse is to
apply the paradigm of embodiment.
Embodiment of faith is explored in relation to one such IC, God's Way Community,
in southern Missouri (USA). The extent of this embodiment is located within a
range of social spheres, including everyday ritual, language, gender, work, and
spatial constructs. It is argued that to achieve 'understanding' (in the sense of
Weber's verstehen) of ICs, and similar types of 'extraordinary' forms of belief, it is
necessary to dissolve the theory/practice (and by implication subject/object) divide
inherent in much previous work on this subject.
This is also made possible through the application not only of embodiment theory,
but also through the use of a number of methodologies which could be loosely
labelled 'post-posilivist'. This includes, for example, the application of historical
analysis and cultural conlexlualisation. Such methodological approaches also
affords an opportunity to challenge the prevailing steretypes of such forms of belief,
and so create new levels of 'sympathy' towards them.