LOVE WALKS: THE SOJOURNED SELF, SOCIAL SOLIDARITY, AND PILGRIMAGE
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My research site is pilgrimage as a space of liminality. I focus on the Camino de Santiago, particularly its Camino Frances route, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. Specifically, I explore the experiences of people who participate in this pilgrimage liminality, focusing on both self-concept work and social solidarity formation. In other words, I investigate how people participate in pilgrimage for personal, self-care reasons while simultaneously, and perhaps paradoxically, developing solidarity with others also participating.
Tangentially, I also explore how pilgrimage may be related to social justice pursuits such as those embodied in such lived experiences of (in)famous social movement revolutionaries as: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Therefore, my main research questions are:1. How is pilgrimage used to work on the self-concept?, and 2. How does pilgrimage create social solidarity?
My peripheral research question is:3. How, if at all, is pilgrimage used as a tool of structural resistance?
Three stories appear from my participants on how pilgrimage is used to work on the Self:
- Participants walk pilgrimage during a transitional life stage, 2. When defining “pilgrimage,” participants do describe a relationship between Self and the Other, and
- “Good” pilgrimage experiences eclipse “bad” experiences among participants, with substantial illustrations of social connections between the Self and the Other.
Three stories that appear regarding how pilgrimage creates social solidarity include:
- Communitas is experienced among and between participants walking the pilgrimage, 2. Participants describe the common goal of reaching Santiago as a reason for social solidarity, and
- Participants describe why and how walking pilgrimage is way to make the world a better place.
Finally, my peripheral research question about pilgrimage as a structural resistance tool is investigated in the conclusion’s conversation about the act of walking being societal opposition.
It is my intention that this dissertation-sojourn provides insight into how pilgrimage creates social solidarity and into the relationship between self-concept, social solidarity, and social justice.