The participants in our study live in two communities, which for purposes of their anonymity we describe in an incomplete or ambiguous way. We also present a profile giving participants' ages at marriage, number of wives and children in families, occupations, and other biographical information; and we describe geographical features, locations, historical roots, and religious, secular, and social activities in somewhat general terms. Because the backgrounds and values of many present-day fundamentalist communities are similar, they may easily be mistaken one for another. Readers are therefore advised not to leap to conclusions about the identities of people or groups.
The role of communities in the lives of fundamentalists
Individual, interpersonal, and family dynamics are embedded in, affected by, played out, and inseparable from the norms, values, customs, and practices of their larger communities and cultures. This is a central axiom of the transactional perspective described in chapter 1. And it applies to people and families in contemporary fundamentalist groups. Because they are rejected by the mainstream Mormon Church and by American society at large, fundamentalists are highly dependent on their co-religionists, leaders, and communities for social and emotional support, and even for their economic well-being. Such support can be quite strong and positive. At the same time, fundamentalist communities often demand loyalty, strict adherence to norms and values, and allegiance to their leaders. Many individuals and families accept these conditions because fundamentalist groups promise a cohesive and orderly community life involving shared values, mutual assistance, moral behavior, and clear-cut rules of social and religious behavior.