Gender and religiosity

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  • Gender and religiosity
    • There are clear gender differences in religious belief and participation.
    • More women than men participate in religion.
      • For example: In 2005, 1.8 million women were church goers as opposed to 1.36 million men.
        • Bruce: Twice as many women then men are involved in sects.
        • Heelas and Woodhead: 80% of the holistic milieu in Kendal were female.
    • Socialisation and the gender role
      • Miller and Hoffman
        • Women are more religious than men because they are socialised to be more passive, obedient and caring (traits which are varied by most religions)
          • Men with these qualities are more likely to be involved in religion if they posses these qualities.
        • Women are more likely than men to work part-time so they are more able to fit religious participation around their commitments.
      • Women are more likely to be attracted to the church as a source of gender identity.
        • Greeley: Taking care of other family members increases their religiosity because it involves responsibility for their 'ultimate,' welfare as well as their everyday needs.
        • Davie: Women's closer proximity to birth and death through child rearing and taking care of the elderly and infirm brings them closer to the ultimate questions about the meaning of life that religion is concerned with.
    • Women and the New Age
      • Women may be more attracted to New Age movements as they are often more closely associated with nature (for example, through childbirth) and a healing role.
        • Brown: New Age 'self' religions appeal to women's need for autonomy and attract women recruits.
          • As they emphasise subjective experience rather than external authority, women are more likely to be involved in these movements rather than traditional, organised, religion.
            • However, some women may be attracted to fundamentalism because of the certainties of a traditional gender role that it prescribes for them.
      • For example
        • Heelas and Woodhead's findings on the holistic milieu in Kendal
          • This is because such movements often celebrate the natural and involve cults of healing which gives women a higher status and sense of self-worth.
      • Bruce
        • Women's experiences of child rearing makes them less aggressive and goal-orientated and more cooperative and caring.
          • Where men wish to achieve, women wish to feel.
          • This fits the expressive emphasis of the New Age.
      • Women are more likely to perceive their prescribed gender roles as restrictive.
    • Compensation for deprivation
      • Glock, Stark and Bainbridge
        • Many people participate in religion because of the organism, ethical and social deprivation.
          • Organismic deprivation
            • This stems from physical and mental health problems.
            • Women are more likely to suffer ill health as they tend to live longer and are generally more elderly.
              • This will make women attempt to seek healing through religion.
          • Ethical deprivation
            • Women tend to be more morally conservative.
            • Women are more likely to regard the world as being in moral decline.
              • This attracts them to sects who share this view.
          • Social deprivation
            • Women are more likely to be poor.
            • This is why there are more women than men in sects since these attract poorer groups.
    • Recent Trends
      • Women are now leaving the church faster than men.
        • For example: Brierley: A drastric decline in churchgoing amongst women aged 35-40 with a 16.4% decrease in Sunday church attendance between 1990 and 2005.
          • He suggests that this may be due to the fact  they have pressure of home, family and work that are normally most intensely felt by women.
            • Women are more likely to have a young family and those who work on Sunday is particularly high (1 in 3) among women of this age that left little time for church.
          • Brown: Since, the 1960s, women have begun to reject their traditional, subordinate gender roles.
            • Because Christianity was closely linked to these traditional roles, women's rejection of subordination has led them to reject traditional religion  at the same time.


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