Voluntary simplicity: an enacted reality
Voluntary Simplicity is a term reflecting the attempt to live life more deliberately, in accordance with one's values. The following study examines voluntary simplicity as it is lived in social contexts.;Following a historical review of simplicity in Chapter One, Chapter Two presents epistemological assumptions that undergird the research design that follows in chapter Three. It recognizes two major ways of knowing voluntary simplicity: (1) through comparing statements that different members of a family make and (2) through comparisons of statements that individuals make. The latter approach divides into noetic statements, or constituting acts, and noematic statements, or constituted content. Roughly, noesis indicates the active aspect of knowing, while noema indicates its passive aspects. In this study, the two will be treated as reciprocals.;Chapters Three and Four present the research design and data, respectively. There were nine interviews of families, couples, one individual, and members of a Simplicity Study Circle. Excepting the study circle members, all interviewees expressed significant identification with voluntary simplicity. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed for emergent themes of three orders: (1) Individual enaction, (2) interactional generation, (or how simplicity is generated through interaction), and (3) observer effects, or a best estimate of how the interviewer's presence affected the interview. The data were analyzed for category clusters and domains.;A combined data analysis presents a third-order view of voluntary simplicity. Data are organized into the major categories, "Social context" and "Participation in Social Context." Social context consisted of the headings, "Material and Time Conservation," "Values/Reflections," (including environmental and social ethics, creativity and agency, community, and spirituality), and "Struggles." The section, "Participation in Social Context," establishes that the "committed" informants are either extensively engaged in community- and/or relationship-building activities (or, in one couple's case that busyness, regretfully, prevented it).;Chapter 5 presents a discussion of the data. It covers: (1) An epistemological framework that guided the analysis, (2) a discussion of "internalization," reflecting the "enaction" theory of cognition advanced by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch (1991), (3) the relevance of simplicity in therapy, (4) limitations and future studies and (5) commentary on being a participant-observer.