This study explores the activities and lifestyles of Amish teenagers during the rumspringa period, as well as their baptism decisions. The Amish participate in adult baptism; therefore, their teenagers make their own decisions about baptism. Using theories and concepts of symbolic anthropology, labeling theory, and boundary maintenance theory, this study examines this stage of life for the Amish. This thesis was carried out by conducting 13 in-depth interviews with five groups of people-New Order Amish, Old Order Amish, ex-Old Order Amish, ex-Swartzentruber, and one law enforcement official. Results showed great diversity surrounding the activities and actual participation in rumspringa by affiliations. The findings suggest that the New Order do not participate in rumspringa, where as some Old Order and Swartzentruber members still participate. Therefore, not all Amish teenagers and affiliations participate in rumspringa, which suggests this time period is changing and some affiliations are moving away from typical rumspringa behaviors and activities. Despite the diversity concerning rumspringa, [mdings suggest similar reasons for baptism among the affiliations; contributors of all affiliations cited religious feelings as the main reason for baptism. Future research is suggested, in terms of focusing on the reasons, purpose and evolution of rumspringa among different affiliations. Also, future research is recommended to focus on gender issues, as well as baptism decisions, to uncover more detail about both topics.


McConnell, David L.


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 2004 Kate Matthews