The need to resolve the issue of needing to find alternative and non-traditional occupations would be a persisting issue for the Amish communities in the future. This is especially so when the only choice is to shift vocations. Even if the Amish communities would adopt technological tools to boost production, the growth potential and size of the agricultural sector is not sufficient to absorb the growing number of households and community expansion. Doing so, by operating large scale for profit, would also amount to deviation from traditional agricultural practices.
The only solution is to develop other occupations. While traditional non-agricultural sectors such as carpentry and masonry persist, there are challenges, particularly the need to compete with non-Amish workers skilled in carpentry and masonry as well as the adaptation to working under non-Amish employers or clients. Non-traditional occupations such as factory work involve similar challenges. The promising alternative occupation is micro-business since this accommodates independence and provides a source of income.
Although, the Amish do not intend to compete in the commercial sense, operating for sufficient income and not necessarily for huge profit may even work in their favor. This would necessitate greater interaction with the wider community but in a manner that could be within the control of the Amish communities. To do so, the Amish communities need to re-adjust their economic base to accommodate the new occupations, especially micro-business and develop guidelines for acceptable business practice. This is necessary to keep the communities intact.
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Outright resistance to new occupations would just lead to the alienation of new household heads ho have no other choice but to engage in new vocations. This would lead to community divisions or rifts. The only way to maintain community cohesiveness is to accommodate new vocations and provide practical support for community members engaging in these new occupations. As external pressures mount, the Amish community would experience greater challenge in more areas of change not only in vocational shifts and its implications but also in other areas such as family traditions, marriage, gender roles, and even religion.
Since the pressures are external, the role of the wider community and state become important. Although integration into the wider community is not likely in the next decade, the Amish communities would likely become contributors to the development of the wider community. Accommodating policies and laws are sound external actions. Conclusion Social change in rural communities is multidimensional due to the inter-linkages in the political, economic, socio-cultural and religious elements comprising community life.
Since these elements developed for centuries and has become the foundation of the identity and lifestyle of community members, change is difficult to achieve. This found exemplification in the change experienced by the Amish communities across the United States as they try to understand and adapt to internal and external pressures to survive. Nevertheless, change is inevitable and necessary for community development. If the Amish communities were to develop and persist, they should succumb to change.
However, there are ways of meeting change head on while at the same time maintaining core cultural and traditional values and that is by influencing the direction and speed of change by becoming active movers of change. The Amish communities can do this by establishing acceptable guidelines for new and non-traditional occupations to re-establish family and community ties.
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American Journal of Community Psychology, 21(1/2), 157-171. Dana, L. P. (2007). A Humility-Based Enterprising Community: The Amish People in Lancaster County. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 1(2), 142-154. Donnermeyer, J. F. , & Cooksey, E. C. (2004). The demographic foundations of Amish society. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, Sacramento, California August 11-15, 2004. Ediger, M. (1997). Examining the Merits of the Old Order Amish Education. Education, 117(3), 339-343.
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