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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Communal journeys : a phenomenological inquiry into the experience of living and working in L’Arche Bazinet, Jean-Claude


In spite of the frequent usage of the word community to describe various groups and social networks in our society, the nature of the experience of community living has been largely unexplored. As a response to this lack of research , this inquiry attempted to answer the question of what community meant to six members of the residential communities of L'Arche, an international network of communities where people with and without disabilities live and work together. L'Arche was selected because it represents an extreme effort to establish a whole way of life based on communal values. The phenomenological research method incorporated twelve in-depth, open-ended interviews. Analysis of gathered information revealed six themes and 17 subthemes. The themes describe the participants' experiences of making a purposeful decision, adopting a communal way of life, deepening their spiritual and religious orientations, enhancing personal growth, facing personal limitations, and being involved in conflicts and disagreements. Each of these themes contains from one to four subthemes which are dynamically interdependent and revelatory of the complexity of the shared experience. The pattern described is a more complete picture of the meaning of the experience of living and working in L'Arche than previously available in the research literature.

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