Karen J. Brison
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Old boys or a new middle class? Defining leadership through bridge-actions in a Fijian Pentecostal church
in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
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This chapter draws on F. G. Bailey’s foundational work in Tribe, Caste and Nation (1960) about the role of entrepreneurial individuals in creating new leadership roles through ‘bridge-actions’ that make use of resources, ideologies, and roles in one political structure to act in another structure. Pastors in the Harvest Ministry, an independent Fijian Pentecostal church, appeared to advocate a shift away from the ethnic pluralism and hereditary rank that organize Fijian society toward multi-ethnic leadership based on professional achievements. But closer examination suggested that pastors used bridge-actions to create new kinds of leadership roles drawing together the structures of the indigenous Fijian vanua, on the one hand, and transnational Pentecostalism and business, on the other, in order to suggest that successful Pentecostal professionals would surpass the power of indigenous chiefs. What looked like social class was really an attempt by entrepreneurial pastors to create new roles for themselves in response to local political and economic changes challenging chiefly power and ethnic pluralism in Fiji.

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The anthropology of power, agency, and morality

The enduring legacy of F. G. Bailey


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