Gender and religious belief

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  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 05-05-14 10:55

Gender statistics and facts.

  • Brierly (2005)- opinion poll evidence suggests W more religious. 1990 poll found that 84% of women believed in God compared to 64% of men.
  • Social attitudes survey (1991)- W more likely to attend church and more likely to say that they belong to a church.
  • Bruce (1996) found that women are more likely to invovlve themselves in religious rituals and worship, and they participate in religious life more, see private prayer as important, join or invovle themselves with NRM and NAMs.
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Explanations for womens greater religiosity

Miller and Hoffman- gender socialisation means W brought up to be more submissive, passive, obedient and nurturing than M,, more involved with feelings, coop and caring. Factors explain W's greater reg in following ways:

  • Guardians of family life- defenders of tradition, Halman & Draulans these roles give W greater focus on family, W not M who see it as necessary to take charge of kid's moral development.
  • Visions of God- Davie W associate god with love, comfort, forgiveness, linked to traditional feminity. M associated G with power and status.
  • Nurturing- Bruce women's socialisation into nurturing aspects related to trad feminity together with child-bearing adn rearing experiences makes them less confrontational, less aggressive, less goal orientated, less domineering, more coop and more caring. Explains attraction to mainteam and sects and NA ideas.
  • Life, death and changes in life- Greely caring tends to be associated with more reg outlook and Walter and Davie see W as more exposed to ups/ downs of life because of biological involvement through childbirth, paid caring jobs and informal carers of children, elderly and sick. Davie suggests that these factors make W more closely associated with Birth and death than men, central issues in many religions. Make W more aware of vulnerability of human life and more attuned to spiritual dimesions of human existence
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Linda Woodhead (2005)

  • Secularisation reduced involvement of M in traditional religions as become increasingly involved in rationalised modern world. M withdrew as church became feminised- emphasis on love, care and relationships.
  • 1970s- increasing number of married W in employment, W attending church declined. However, W still more religious than men, emphasis on relationships in church still there and NA beliefs helped to resolve identity problems of W combining paid work with caring roles.
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Womens greater religiousity

  • Knott- W have higher involvement, represent over 1/2 of church membership- due to biological role of giving birth, see creation of new life as spiritual experience.
  • Bruce- ratio of females to male involvment in NRMs is 2:1
  • Bruce (1996) modern world there is sharp divide between private and public sphere. Theory of secularisation (differention thesis) religion is declining but is also moving into private sphere, where women are more closely connected to.
  • Miller and Hoffman- Risk attidues, lack of faith seen as risky as may not get into heavan, women less likely than men to take risks.
  • Life expectantcy- W live longer, likely to be widowed, turn to reg as source of support, comfort and means of building support networks in their communities.
  • W more likely than M to face social deprevation and marginality, may experience more disillusionment and alienation from wider socity, compared to men more likely to experience poverty, personal/ family problems, less self confient therefore seeking improvements (NAcults/ NAMs), more likely to be less powerful than men in patriarchal society, WC W and W isolated at home and not in paid employmnt- may seek and find solice in reg groups, provide theodicies explaining their feelings, provide solutions and support.
  • Status frustration- lack personal fulfilment/status as result of being confined to home by housework, childcare. Unsatisyfing low MC jobs- sects NAcults help overcome/compensate.
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However, W not always more religious than M:

  • Difficult to define membership of church, differing levels of committment, not everyone is registered, statistics therefore do not show that M are not religious just may not be registered or as open about their feelings.
  • Aune et al (2008)- found decline in W attendance in Church- lower fertility levels (older gen from churh not being replaced) and paid employment (time constraints) C20th 1.3 of W in paid work.
  • Men are involved in religion, many hold high positions in religion - Jim Jones (People's temple) and Pope is male.
  • M and W are viewed differently, affects way in which they hold religious beliefs, M less likely to admit any level of religious involvement (strong, do not need religion to survive ((patriarchal)) whereas W more emotion (Parsons) use religion to cope with death/ births and life stress.
  • Ruicke- no empircal evidence of a gender difference in witchcraft.
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Participation in NRMs/ NAMs

Bruce (1995) W tend to participate more in sects than men, suggested that ratio of w to m involvement is similar to that in established religions 2:1

Thompson (1996) W more likely to experience economic deprevation and more liekly to join sects. Do not have economic and social stability of others in society, but sect members have the promise of salvation and knowledge that they are englightened.

Glock and Stark (1969) - Identigy bumber of types of deprevation, all of which are likely to apply to W. Suggest those who join sects may have experienced:

1- social deprevation, lack of power, prestige adn power. (lack of job satisfaction, unsatisfying low MC jobs find satisfaction in sects)

2- organismis dep- suffer mental / physical problems, turn to sects in hope of being healed/ alternative to drugs and alcohol

3- ethical dep- world in moral decline, retreat into introversionist sect that seperates self from work- Jim Jone's People's Temple - part of filling spiritual void.

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NRMs/ NAMs continued

Aldbridge- NAMs have reawakended interest in goddess, giving them central role. Offer positive image of feminity compared to traditional scriptures.

Stark and Bainbridge- Easier for W to achieve leadership roles in cults.

Glendinng and Bruce (2006) - W more likely to engage in NA activites (tarrot, astrology) M more interested in other aspects of NA, pursuits involving personal well-being (reflexology, yoga)

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Participation in fundamentalism

  • Resurgence in reg fundamentalism in recent years is reversing trend of women's autonomy and pursuit of fulfilment beyond motherhood.
  • For example, USA anti-abortion groups oppose womens rights to chose, some extremist blow up abortion clinics, murdered doctors involved.
  • Not all fundamentalists beliefs are oppressive, Jew/ Christian W welcomed empahsis on women's role as spouse' mother ad sphere of the place in the home.

Watson (1994)- speaks of liveration felt by many muslims wearing veil.

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