Kristin Park


Pluralism; Cultural relativism; Ethical relativism; Human rights; Andy Weaver Amish; Friesen and Friesen (1996); Social constructionism; Qualitative methods


Relatively little is known about how ordinary non-Amish citizens interact with and perceive their Old Order Amish neighbors. This study used interpretive and semi-inductive approaches with in-depth interviews to describe and analyze interactions and perceptions of non-Amish research participants. Sixteen subjects were identified from purposive, snowball and theoretical sampling in a region near a sizeable, very tradition-minded Old Order settlement. All participants engaged in secondary relationships, while several individuals had intimate and enduring relationships with a small number of Amish individuals and families. While most participants perceived their Amish acquaintances and friends as honest, hard-working, caring and community-minded, some expressed negative views about racial and ethnic prejudice, rejection of safety devices, hygiene, sanitation and treatment of animals and an overly-restrictive culture. While no definitive conclusions were reached, negative perceptions were analyzed with attention to the preferred stance of cultural relativism for cross-cultural evaluation, while more universal human and animal rights considerations were also articulated.

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