Religiosity and Social Groups

Religion and social groups

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  • Created on: 01-06-11 14:38

Religiosity and Social Groups


Miller and Hoffman's finding that women express greater interest in religion, have a stronger personal commitment to it and attend church more.

Bruce estimates that there are twice as many women than men involved in sects

Heelas and Woodhead found that 80% of participants in holistic milieu in Kendal were female.

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Religiosity and Social Groups

Reasons for gender differences.

Women are more religious because they are socialised to be more passive and caring. These are qualities valued by most religions so it follows that omwen are more likely than men to be attracted to religion.

Women are more likely to work part-time, so they will have more time to participate in religious activities than men.

Women more likely to be attracted to church as a source of gender identity, and Greeley argues that taking care of other family members increases women's religiosity because it involves responsiblity for their ultimare welfare and everyday needs.

Davie argues that women's closer proximity to birth and death brings them closer to 'ultimate' questions about the meaning of life that religion is concerned with.

Women may see God as the God of love and forgiveness.

Women are more often associated with a healing role, therefore more attracted than men to New Age.

Bruce believes that women's experiences of bringing up children make them less aggressive and more caring, where men want to achieve, women wish to feel. Fits with emphasis of New Age.

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Religiosity and Social Groups

Reasons for gender differences (carried on)

Glock and Stark and Stark and Bainbridge argue that people may participate in religion because of life compensators (for social, organismic andd ethical deprivation that it offers)

Glock and Stark argue these forms of deprivation are more common through women and explains why there is a high level of sect membership.

Organismic Deprivation: Physical and mental health problems, which women more likely to suffer, healing.

Ethical Deprivation: Women more conservative, likely to regard world as being in moral decline.

Social Deprivation: Women more likely to be poor. More women in sects and sects usually attract the poor.


Women are leaving the church at a faster rate than men, this may be due to pressures at home and family commitments. Callum Brown believes that there is a decline in women's churchgoing. He argues that since the 1960's, women have begun to reject traditional gender roles.

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Religiosity and Social Groups

Ethnicity and Religiosity

UK today is multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. Christians biggest religious group, but there are numbers of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, which almost all of whom belong to ethnic minorities and many Christians are afro-caribbean.

Ethnic patterns in religious participation with high than average rates for most minority ethnic groups.

Black Christians are more likely than whites to be found in the Pentecostal churches, where they make up 40% of the membership.

Minorities have higher participation rates.

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Religiosity and Social Groups

Reasons for Ethnic Differences

Ethnic minorities originate from poorer countries with traditionalcultures both of which produce higher levels of religious belief and practice.

Cultural Defence: Bruce argues that religion offers support and a sense of cultural identity in an uncertain environment.

Bird notes religion among minorities can be a basis for community solidarity, a means of preserving one's culture and language, and a way of coping with oppression in a racist society. This is seen in many dominating white churches where black afro-carribeans have moved to pentecostal churches.

Cultural Transition: Religion can also be a means of easing the transition into a new culture by providing support and sense of community. Herberg gives this explanation for high levels of religious participation among first generation immigrants in the USA. 

Pryce's study of the Afro-Caribbean community in Bristal shows both cultural defence and cultural transition have been important. He argues that Pentecostalism is a highly adaptive 'religion of the oppressed' that provided migrants with values appropriate to the new world in which they found themselves.

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Religiosity and Social Groups

Age and religious participation

The older the person, the more likely they are to attend religious services, however the under 15's are more likeley to go to church than other age groups because of their parents and the over 65's may not be able to go because they are more likeley to be sick or disabled.

Reasons for Age Differences

Voas and Crockett, there are two main sorts of explanation for age difference in religious participation:

- The ageing effect: This is the view that people turn to religion as they get older. For example, using evidence from the Kendal Project, Heelas argues that people become more interested in spirituality as they get older. As we approach death, we become more concerned about spiritual matter and the afterlife and as a result we are more likely to go to church.

- The generational effect: That as society becomes more secular, each new generation is less religious than the one before.. There are more old people than young people in the church congregations today, because grew up at a time when religion was more popular.

Gill says children are no longer recieving a religious socialisation and those brought up without religious beliefs are less likely to become churchgoers later in life.

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Don't forget social class!! x

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