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.


This research was supported by a Hoon Faculty Development Award from Westminster College for the spring semester, 2017. Many thanks to Carol Morrow for her excellent transcription of interviews, and to my research participants for generously sharing their time and thoughts. Thanks also to JAPAS editor Dr. Cory Anderson and the anonymous reviewers for insightful suggestions.



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