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Социология религии. Социолого-религиоведческий портал

Александр Гендельман

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Everything posted by Александр Гендельман

  1. Andrew L Whitehead Samuel L Perry Joseph O Baker Sociology of Religion, srx070, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx070 Published: 25 January 2018 Abstract Why did Americans vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election? Social scientists have proposed a variety of explanations, including economic dissatisfaction, sexism, racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. The current study establishes that, independent of these influences, voting for Trump was, at least for many Americans, a symbolic defense of the United States’ perceived Christian heritage. Data from a national probability sample of Americans surveyed soon after the 2016 election shows that greater adherence to Christian nationalist ideology was a robust predictor of voting for Trump, even after controlling for economic dissatisfaction, sexism, anti-black prejudice, anti-Muslim refugee attitudes, and anti-immigrant sentiment, as well as measures of religion, sociodemographics, and political identity more generally. These findings indicate that Christian nationalist ideology—although correlated with a variety of class-based, sexist, racist, and ethnocentric views—is not synonymous with, reducible to, or strictly epiphenomenal of such views. Rather, Christian nationalism operates as a unique and independent ideology that can influence political actions by calling forth a defense of mythological narratives about America’s distinctively Christian heritage and future. https://academic.oup.com/socrel/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/socrel/srx070/4825283?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  2. John Wilson Thomas Janoski Sociology of Religion, Volume 56, Issue 2, 1 July 1995, Pages 137–152,https://doi.org/10.2307/3711760 Published: 01 July 1995 Abstract The connection between church membership, church activism, and volunteering is explored using a three-wave panel study of young adults. Volunteering to help others solve community problems is more likely among members of churches that emphasize this-worldly social concerns, especially among those socially involved in these churches. Among Catholics, the connection between church involvement and volunteering is formed early and remains strong. Among liberal Protestants, the connection is made only in middle age. Among moderate and conservative Protestants there is little connection at all. Conservative Protestants who attend church regularly are less likely to be involved in secular volunteering and more likely to be involved in volunteering for church-related work. The results suggest caution in generalizing about the connection between religious preference or involvement, and volunteering because this connection depends on the theological interpretation of volunteering and the significance attached to frequent church attendance. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/56/2/137/1631176?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  3. Markus H Schafer Sociology of Religion, srx069, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx069 Published: 17 February 2018 Abstract Though religion matters greatly to many U.S. adults, it is widely considered a touchy conversational topic. Understanding how religious issues are talked about with others can elucidate a key interpersonal manifestation of Americans’ faith, yet existing research has largely overlooked the phenomena of religious discussion in social networks. This article considers which types of people talk about religion with their close ties, what relational factors underlie religious discussion, and what implications such discussion has for network turnover and stability. Applying multilevel regression methods to ego-centered networks measured in the Portraits of American Life Survey, I find that individual- and relational-level factors each predict the presence of religious discussion within close networks. Longitudinal analyses further reveal that for a large subset of Americans—namely evangelical and mainline Protestants and those involved in a congregation—religious discussion partners are especially likely to remain in the network over the course of 6 years. This association extended beyond other factors that could explain tie persistence, including relational closeness and multiple forms of homophily. Results point to several promising future directions for the study of religion and social networks. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/socrel/srx069/4869765?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  4. Gary J Adler, Jr. Andrea L Ruiz Sociology of Religion, srx060, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx060 Published: 17 February 2018 Abstract Short-term mission (STM) travel is a popular religious and civic practice done by religious congregations, but the local conditions that facilitate its production are poorly understood. We analyze organizational factors behind STM travel, with special focus on the role of recent immigrants within congregations. We use data from the third wave of the National Congregations Study. Our results show large differences by religious tradition, as well as the influence of foreign clergy, youth ministry, college-educated members, recent immigrants, and immigrant service orientation. We identify an immigrant effect, theorizing how immigrant presence and identity influence U.S. congregations’ transnational engagement, especially within religious traditions with relatively low levels of recent immigrants. By connecting research on congregational civic engagement with that on transnational immigrant religion, we argue that about 30% of STM travel is a form of civic remittance in which recent immigrants and their U.S. congregations aid foreign communities. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/socrel/srx060/4868584?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  5. J E Sumerau Lain A B Mathers Ryan T Cragun Sociology of Religion, sry001, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sry001 Published: 13 March 2018 Abstract Sociologists of religion have recently started to pay more attention to the ways gender and religion are deeply interconnected. However, these analyses rarely focus their attention on transgender experiences within religious spaces. Building on research that points to the ways religions may “cisgender reality” and calls for a “gender lens” on religion, this article explores some ways transgender people experience religion. Specifically, we analyze how transgender people experience conservative Christian notions of gender predicated upon cisnormative and patriarchal norms. Our analysis offers an example of applying a transgender inclusive gender lens to the sociology of religion, and expands prior work on gender and religion by incorporating the experiences of transgender people in religious contexts. https://academic.oup.com/socrel/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/socrel/sry001/4931786?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  6. Rodney Stark Sociology of Religion, Volume 57, Issue 2, 1 July 1996, Pages 163–173,https://doi.org/10.2307/3711948 Published: 01 July 1996 Abstract More than 10 years ago the author proposed a contextual-interactional explanation of the fact that research done on the West Coast fails to find a relationship between religious commitment and delinquency, while studies done elsewhere invariably find a strong negative correlation. Unfortunately, because of various deficiencies, subsequent studies that claimed to test the contextual explanation have not done so — leaving the literature more confused than ever. In an effort to clarify matters, this paper carefully restates the contextual theory and then tests it on data from a very large survey of higfr school seniors. The results demonstrate the existence of a very potent contextual effect. https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/57/2/163/1624794?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  7. Lori Peek Sociology of Religion, Volume 66, Issue 3, 1 October 2005, Pages 215–242,https://doi.org/10.2307/4153097 Published: 01 October 2005 Abstract This study explores the process of religious identity formation and examines the emergence of religion as the most salient source of personal and social identity for a group of second-generation Muslim Americans. Drawing on data gathered through participant observation, focus groups, and individual interviews with Muslim university students in New York and Colorado, three stages of religious identity development are presented: religion as ascribed identity; religion as chosen identity; and religion as declared identity. This research illustrates how religious identity emerges in social and historical context and demonstrates that its development is variable rather than static. Additionally, I discuss the impacts of September 11 and show how a crisis event can impel a particular identity—in this case, religious—to become even more central to an individual's concept of self. Through asserting the primacy of their religious identity over other forms of social identity, religion became a powerful base of personal identification and collective association for these young Muslims. https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/66/3/215/1665611?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  8. Scott Schieman Sociology of Religion, Volume 71, Issue 1, 1 March 2010, Pages 25–51,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srq004 Published: 10 February 2010 Abstract This study examines the differences in beliefs about God's influence in everyday life across levels of socioeconomic status (SES) and whether that association is contingent upon religious involvement (i.e., frequency of praying, attendance, reading religious texts, and subjective religiosity). I focus specifically on the beliefs in divine involvement and divine control. Using data from two national 2005 surveys of Americans, I observe the following: (1) overall, SES is associated negatively with beliefs in divine involvement and control; (2) with the exception of reading religious texts, each indicator of religious involvement is associated with higher levels of beliefs in divine involvement or divine control; (3) SES interacts with each dimension of religious involvement such that the negative association between SES and divine involvement or control is attenuated at higher levels of religious involvement. I discuss the contributions of this research for theoretical perspectives on the relationship between SES and beliefs about God's influence in everyday life, underscoring the need to assess religious involvement in these processes. William James ([1902] 1999) defined religion as “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine” (p. 36). For more than a century, critiques of religion have suggested that beliefs about God, including His engagement and involvement in everyday life, represent forms of delusional pathology (Ellis 1988; Freud 1976; Marx and Engels 1964; Watters 1992).1 More recently, a fresh crop of writings from scholars across disciplines has sought to assess and challenge religion in contemporary society, especially in the United States (Dawkins 2006; Dennett 2006; Harris 2004; Hitchens 2007). Despite the increasing popularity of these recent polemics about religion, there is strong evidence that the vast majority of Americans maintain the belief in a personal God (Froese and Bader 2007), and these beliefs remain influential in many aspects of American social and political life (Wills 2007). Less is known, however, about the content of those beliefs. In this paper, therefore, I focus on the extent that individuals believe in a personal God who is involved and influential in people's lives—with a special emphasis on the distribution of these beliefs across SES. Sociologists have long touted the social causes and consequences associated with beliefs about the divine (Marx and Engels [1878] 1964; Weber [1922] 1963). One area of interest has focused on the patterning of religious precepts and practices across social strata (Davidson 1977; Demerath 1965; Fukuyama 1961; Glock and Stark 1965; Stark 1972). Wilson (1982), for example, underscored “the differential appeal of religion according to the specifics of particular classes or social groups” (p. 23). Recent evidence confirms that stratification-based differences in religious affiliation persist (Pyle 2006; Smith and Faris 2005). In an effort to extend this tradition, I examine the association between SES and beliefs about God independently and in conjunction with other aspects of religious involvement, including the frequency of attending religious services, praying, reading religious texts, and subjective religious identification. Using data from two 2005 national surveys of American adults, I address three questions: (1) Is SES associated with beliefs about divine involvement and divine control? (2) How are different dimensions of religious involvement associated with those beliefs? (3) Does religious involvement modify the association between SES and beliefs about divine involvement and divine control? In supplemental analyses, I also assess whether or not the association between SES and the belief in divine involvement is contingent upon individuals' beliefs about the Bible as the literal word of God. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/71/1/25/1622317
  9. Gerardo Martí Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 377–386,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx059 Published: 12 December 2017 Abstract In a short time, Hillsong has become a powerful congregational presence across the world and deserves more focused scholarly attention. Hillsong Church is part of an ongoing elaboration of evangelicalism, much of which has recently merged with a softer form of Pentecostalism (often called Charismatic Christianity), encouraging sermons and songs to be more conversational, and embracing a more therapeutic emphasis on emotional well-being with the promise of immediacy to an intimate God whose Spirit-filling empowerment energizes even the most mundane activities of work and family in everyday life. Arising out of Australia, Hillsong has become a worldwide commercial enterprise, distributing music and related products to Christian consumers who are entrained to a particular rhythm of religious sounds. Hillsong is also a philosophy of ministry that represents a set of theological convictions, an approach to pastoral leadership, and a type of networked ecclesial organization. In the end, Hillsong is more than just a church, a collection of music, a style of worship, an approach to ministry, or a set of corporate entities—it is an impressive ecclesial force, a global phenomenon that builds on a set of historical developments that comprise a wave of understandings and practices zooming into our religious future. Early last year, our Aunt Debbie texted my wife and I to say that a Hillsong concert was scheduled a few months away not far from where we lived. She wanted to go and would we go with her…? It was a curious message because Aunt Debbie is not a Pentecostal, “Spirit-filled” Christian nor is she prone to flying out to events on a whim. I certainly did not know she had any interest in the ministry of Hillsong Church. She was raised in a strict, Bible-centered congregation where all the women wore veils and only men preached from the pulpit. She grew up to become a well-educated professional, succeeding in a corporate career while taking care of a husband and kids. She sincerely believes in Jesus and anticipates the resurrection, believing that prayer works and that the Bible is true. Her church was fine, mixing hymns and newer songs, all nice and orderly. And yet—Hillsong captured Aunt Debbie’s attention. She got a glimpse of a different type of worship when visiting churches on vacation, a taste of raw emotional ecstasy, and began to seek out more spiritually immersive environments. She wanted a space where she could lose herself and raise her hands—yes, raise her hands—without worrying what others around her might think. So, one late summer evening, Aunt Debbie, my wife, and I joined 4,000 other Hillsong ticket-holders at an open-air arena in the hills of North Carolina. We took our seats in rows facing three giant screens and several impressive boxes of stereo speakers. The music started, loud and energetic, and she immediately recognized it, and we sang along, following lyrics projected for us, learning the melodies, lights moving and flashing all around, the swell of an enormous crowd of voices rising around us. I looked over to see Aunt Debbie raising her hands—one arm first, then the other as well. She raised her hands, and she worshipped. For many in the United States like my Aunt Debbie, Hillsong represents a compelling musical pathway to an emotional one-on-one connection to God. Yet as a sociologist of religion, I knew that the Hillsong experience sought by my Aunt Debbie was more than just about a style of worship. It touched her as a mature woman who is deeply religious yet seeks support for traditional roles that have been marginalized. It also connects her to a social atmosphere that is more modern than her usual church setting and reflects her everyday experience living in an urban and often youth-affirming world. And Hillsong provides opportunity to enact an embodied and emotional participation in worship, one that is as physically involved as it is compelling and cathartic. Hillsong Church is part of an ongoing elaboration of evangelicalism, much of which has recently merged with a softer form of Pentecostalism (often called Charismatic Christianity, see Cox 1995), one that encourages sermons and songs to be more conversational, embracing a more therapeutic emphasis on emotional well-being (Martí 2008, forthcoming; Miller 1997). Worship is a guided, event-focussed, corporate effort attached to a promise of immediacy to an intimate God, a God whose Spirit-filling empowerment energizes even the most mundane activities of work and family in everyday life (Martí 2008, 2010b). More than this, Hillsong is also a worldwide commercial enterprise, distributing music and related products to Christian consumers who are entrained to a particular rhythm of religious sounds. Hillsong is also a philosophy of ministry that represents a set of theological convictions, an approach to pastoral leadership, and a type of networked ecclesial organization. In a short time, Hillsong emerged out of Australia to become a powerful congregational presence in cities and nations across the world. Hillsong is more than just a church, a collection of music, a style of worship, an approach to ministry, or a set of corporate entities—it is an impressive ecclesial force, a global phenomenon that builds on a set of historical developments, a wave of understandings and practices zooming into our religious future. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/4/377/4731531
  10. Marc A. Eaton Sociology of Religion, Volume 76, Issue 4, 1 December 2015, Pages 389–412,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srv031 Published: 30 July 2015 Abstract The recent proliferation of ghost hunting television shows reflects the broad public interest in what participants refer to as “paranormal investigation.” Currently, over 3,000 paranormal investigation teams exist in the United States, and more exist worldwide. Paranormal investigators use a wide variety of investigative methods in their attempts to find evidence of ghosts and, therefore, life after death. Based on three years of participant observation and 32 interviews with paranormal investigators, this article argues that paranormal investigation functions as a spiritual practice for participants. Investigators' motives, methods, and the meanings they attribute to investigating are all imbued with spiritual significance. For some investigators the practice helps validate existing religious beliefs, while for others it prompts a spiritual transformation. Many participants rely upon conventional religious or New Age beliefs to interpret experiences during investigations, but even those who primarily rely upon science and technology find the practice spiritually meaningful. For the past 40 years, confidence in organized religion has been declining in the United States. In 1975, 68% of Americans reported having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in “the church or organized religion,” but by 2012 this percentage had slipped to 44% of those polled (Saad 2012). Likewise, church attendance has declined in the United States since the 1960s (Stark 2008). This is not to say that Americans are abandoning faith. Though a recent study indicates that self-identified atheists in the United States nearly doubled (from 1.6 to 3.1%) between 2007 and 2014 (Pew Research Center 2015), this percentage is consistent with 70 years of data showing that only 2–4% of Americans identify as atheist (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2012; Stark 2008). People in the United States are not necessarily losing faith but rather diversifying their engagement with what they perceive to be supernatural or divine. Modern religiosity in Western nations is characterized by such pluralism, as more and more religions compete with one another on the “spiritual marketplace” (Roof 1999; Swatos and Christiano 1999). At the root of this phenomenon is a shift toward individualized modes of belief and practice. Wuthnow (1998) identified this as a transition from dwelling to seeking. In seeking forms of spirituality, individuals are empowered to define their own unique belief systems and relationships to what they believe to be sacred. This general process has taken many forms. In one trend Davie (1994)referred to as “believing without belonging,” many people are disengaging from religious institutions while retaining personal religious beliefs. A related trend is the rise of religious “nones,” people who report no religious affiliation. Nones increased from only 7% in 1972 to nearly 23% of the United States population by 2014 (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2012; Pew Research Center 2015). According to Pew Research Center (2015), movement away from religion to identification as religiously unaffiliated is the most common trend in religious switching in the United States. This population is two times more likely than the general public (37% versus 18%) to identify as “spiritual but not religious” (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2012), which Fuller (2001:4) describes as “concerned with spiritual issues but [choosing] to pursue them outside the context of formal religious organization.” A third trend is what can broadly be called the New Age movement. Among other beliefs, New Age practitioners assert that the spiritual can be directly experienced through an eclectic assortment of Western religious beliefs, Eastern philosophy, and elements of neo-pagan and Native American spiritualities (Bruce 2002; Heelas and Woodhead 2005; Partridge 1999). Each of these is a manifestation of a spiritual “quest culture,” in which spirituality has been freed from the boundaries of doctrines and institutions (Roof 1999). In this article, I argue that paranormal investigating (aka “ghost hunting”) is part of this quest for authentic spiritual experiences. Much like the spiritualists of the latter half of the nineteenth century, who attempted to communicate with the departed through “spirit rapping,” séances, and Ouija boards, contemporary paranormal investigators are driven by a desire to confirm, for themselves and others, the existence of life beyond death (Moore 1977; Weisberg 2004). The spiritual overtones of this practice have been documented by Baker and Bader (2014), who report that paranormal investigations are infused with religious and magical beliefs. Likewise, Draper and Baker (2011) conclude that reported beliefs in ghosts, extraterrestrials, Bigfoot, and psychic phenomena strongly predict belief in guardian angels. The spiritual significance of paranormal beliefs is not restricted to ghosts and hauntings. As Denzler (2001) and Partridge (2003) show, beliefs in UFOs and extraterrestrials are often infused with spirituality. In light of its historical similarity to the spiritualist movement and recent research revealing the spiritual nature of many paranormal beliefs, I propose that paranormal investigating can be considered a spiritual practice. Wuthnow (2003:309) defines spiritual practice as “those activities in which individuals engage in order to become more aware of their spirituality or to enrich and grown their spiritual lives.” In this context, spirituality refers to “a state of being related to a divine, supernatural, or transcendent order of reality or, alternatively, as a sense or awareness of a suprareality that goes beyond life as ordinarily experienced” (Wuthnow 2003:307). Paranormal investigators are motivated by a desire to make contact with a reality beyond the physical world, which investigators usually call “the afterlife,” “the spirit realm,” or simply “the other side.”1 Using technological tools, their own senses, and even reported mediumistic abilities, paranormal investigators attempt to communicate with what they variously call “ghosts,” “spirits,” “entities,” or “disembodied consciousness.”2 Paranormal teams usually include a combination of members who identify as scientific (reliant upon technology to monitor the environment) and sensitive (reliant upon extrasensory perceptions, such as seeing, hearing, or otherwise sensing the presence of spirits). This mixture of mediumistic and ostensibly scientific methods of investigation also echoes the spiritualist movement (Moore 1977; Weisberg 2004). Much like their predecessors a century and a half ago, contemporary paranormal investigators differ in their techniques but are motivated by a shared desire to capture evidence of life after death. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/76/4/389/2461450
  11. Wendy Cadge Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 437–455,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx025 Published: 05 July 2017 Abstract This article contributes to Bender et al’s efforts to explore religion “on the edge” by analyzing how religion and spirituality are present in one set of public institutions—airports (2013). I ask how airport chaplains articulate the professional mandate or basis on which they do their work. Rather than making legal or economic arguments, common in the literature about professional mandates, airport chaplains emphasize the moral demand they perceive for their work. They speak of the need to be present, to see and be attentive to grief, and to serve as a last resort. As a case, airport chaplains raise questions about Andrew Abbott’s (1988) approach to the professions by defining as “work” actions within airports that other professionals do not. Rather than being in competition with other professional groups for the right to do this “work,” they are working to become a companion profession, one that comes alongside. INTRODUCTION In 2013, the San Francisco International Airport installed a “cleansing station” on the ground floor of a parking garage so Muslim cab drivers would have a place to wash, as required by Islamic law, before they pray (Matier and Ross 2013). All but three of the 20 largest airports in the United States have a chapel or meditation room inside the airport for travelers and staff (Cadge forthcoming). And numerous court cases—most notably about Hare Krishna’s—have set guidelines about the distribution of religious literature in airports. While social scientists do not typically think about airports as religious or spiritual sites, these and other examples suggest that spirituality and religion are—at least sometimes—present in airports, perhaps geographically and institutionally on the edge (Bender et al. 2013). This article builds on the third “edge”—“religion outside of congregations”—Bender et al. write about in their edited volume by the same name. “We argue,” they write, “for looking ‘beyond’ the congregation as a way to open up sociological approaches to the organization, scope, and development of religion in society” (8). This article expands the secular spaces that Bender et al. consider in their edited volume to include American airports with particular attention to airport chaplains, the religious professionals most consistently present. I ask how airport chaplains as religious professionals in explicitly secular institutions articulate their professional mandate or the basis on which they do their work and how they describe themselves enacting these mandates in the day to day. Chaplains, today described as professionals that work with people around spiritual, religious, and broad existential questions in a range of sectors, present several challenges to current scholarly approaches to professional mandate and jurisdiction. Chaplains are required by law in the military, federal prisons, and the Veterans Administration (VA) as part of the first amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion (Sullivan 2014). While chaplains have long existed in many other American institutions including healthcare organizations, colleges and universities, and many workplaces, they are not legally mandated to be there. Despite this lack of legal mandate, more than half of the largest American airports have chaplains. Some are volunteers or are paid by local religious groups, while others are paid by airport chaplaincy groups incorporated as legal non-profits. They serve airport staff and travelers alike. While the literature about professional mandates largely emphasizes the economic, legal, and rhetorical strategies professionals use to make their case or articulate the basis on which they do their work, airport chaplains emphasize the moral demand for their work. They base their work on the need to be present to others in the airport, be aware of and attentive to grief, and serve as a last resort for their own sakes rather than as a way to help the airlines or airports be more functional. Chaplains see “work” around these issues in ways that other professionals do not. Their perspective, in other words, raises questions not about who will do particular work as expected in current approaches to the professions, but in what counts as work and needs to be done. Rather than competing with other professionals in the airport, as Andrew Abbott’s approach to professional jurisdiction would suggest, airport chaplains seek to come alongside other professionals as a companion profession as they articulate the mandate for their work and do it in the day to day (1988). Such insights expand Bender et al.’s third edge by expanding the spaces where sociologists of religion see religion and spirituality and beginning to theorize how religious professionals that work in such spaces situate their work. In conversation with existing research about chaplains, these findings point to commonalities and differences in the mandates that undergird chaplains’ work and offer opportunities to further theorize across diverse institutional settings (Hicks 2010; Cadge 2012; Hansen 2012; Sullivan 2014; Miller and Ngunjiri 2015). ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/4/437/3926078
  12. Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 411–436,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx027 Published: 10 July 2017 Abstract In dialogue with mainly western literature on determinants of religious mobility and the evidence on the transformative role of mass education in developing settings, I examine the relationship of educational attainment with religious reaffiliation and disaffiliation in the context of rural and small-town sub-Saharan Africa. Adapting western scholarship to the realities of that context, where most people do not complete primary school, I conceptualize both basic education and religious belonging as parts and expressions of profound societal transformations in the sub-continent. I use data from a survey of women aged 18–50 years conducted in a predominantly Christian area in Mozambique to test this relationship from both the lifetime and dynamic perspectives. I find a strong positive association between educational level and the probability of church switching, with modest variations by denominational destination of and main reasons for reaffiliation. Disaffiliation is negatively related to schooling level. These findings are situated within a broader discourse on religion, development, and social change in the sub-Sahara. INTRODUCTION Contemporary global Christianity is characterized by growing doctrinal and denominational diversity (Jenkins 2011). The rise and decline of different currents and forms of Christian faith is largely shaped by changing dynamics of religious joining, switching (reaffiliation), and quitting (disaffiliation).1 At the same time, these dynamics reflect broader societal transformations in many parts of the globe. The expansion of mass education, especially among women, is a core feature and engine of these global transformations. In this study, I connect these two phenomena—the spread of mass schooling and the diversification of Christianity—to examine the relationship between women’s education and their religious mobility in a typical rural/small-town, predominantly Christian sub-Saharan setting. Whereas little is known about religious switching in sub-Saharan contexts beyond common observations of a massive growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and a relative decline of historical, mission-based churches (e.g., Gifford 2004; Kalu 2003; Meyer 2004), the western, and especially the U.S.-focused scholarship on the topic is quite rich. In the USA, switching religious affiliation has been common (Loveland 2003; Roof 1989) but has varied greatly across religious denominations and traditions (Sherkat 2001; Smith and Sikkink 2003). It has long been argued, for example, that switching is influenced by the relative societal status of different denominations and churches: denominations whose membership confers higher status to their members have been more attractive than lower status denominations (Roof and Hadaway 1979; Stark and Glock 1968). Yet, other studies have provided evidence that more conservative churches, which at least in early stages of their existence have a lower status than do more liberal ones, have been growing most vigorously (Iannaccone 1994; Kelley 1972; Thomas and Olson 2010). In addition, switching has been more common in churches with more flexible membership requirements than in churches with stricter membership rules and commitment expectations (Roof and Hadaway 1979; Sherkat 1991). The western scholarship points to gender differences in religious affiliation and attendance/religiosity, with women typically displaying higher rates of both (Te Grotenhuis and Scheepers 2001; McFarland et al. 2011: 177, 179; Schwadel 2014: 13; Schwadel 2015: 410), even though the roots of these differences are still debated (e.g., Gee 1991; Sullins 2006). However, no consistent gender patterns in probabilities of switching or disaffiliation have been found (e.g., Loveland 2003: 153; Sandomirsky and Wilson 1990; Sherkat and Wilson 1995). Among factors increasing the likelihood of switching, the literature singles out religious intermarriage (e.g., Hadaway and Marler 1993; Lofland and Stark 1965; Musick and Wilson 1995; Newport 1979; Sherkat 1991; 2004) and geographic mobility (Bibby 1997; Sherkat 1991). In comparison, the role of socioeconomic characteristics, especially education, in religious (re)affiliation and disaffiliation, as in religious involvement in general, has been complex and has varied across different historical periods and across denominations (Brown 2012; Hill 2011; Mayrl and Oeur 2009; Schwadel 2011). Notably, the western literature typically focuses on the effects of post-secondary education. However, in many less developed countries, especially in impoverished settings of sub-Saharan Africa, the levels of educational attainment, particularly among women, remain very low, and the relationship between schooling and religious mobility may therefore differ from that observed in more developed societies. This study uses unique survey data from a predominantly Christian setting in Mozambique to examine the role of women’s education in joining, switching and quitting across different types of Christian denominations. The study setting is, of course, vastly distinct from the USA and other western contexts where religious mobility has been relatively well studied. However, the firmly established, even if constantly evolving, Christian denominational palette of that setting facilitates a conceptual dialogue with the western scholarship, at least in comparison with societies dominated by other religious traditions. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/4/411/3950277
  13. Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 387–410,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx032 Published: 17 July 2017 Abstract The number of female clergy in the United States has steadily increased over the last 40years. Several occupational theories suggest that the ratio of males to females within an occupation can affect occupational income inequality. Previous research on clergy has found meaningful gender differences in pay. However, this research has focused on particular denominations and has not captured trends in the national clergy labor market. Using the Current Population Survey, we uncover patterns in occupational gender inequality among clergy at the national level. We find that among clergy, the female income disadvantage has changed from 60 cents on the dollar in 1976 to 93 cents on the dollar in 2016. However, 42 percent of the income gains for female clergy is explained by the slow rates of income growth among male clergy. We conclude by discussing unique features of occupational gender inequality within American congregations. In this study, we address the questions “What are the gender differences in pay among American clergy, and how have these differences changed over time?” As in many occupations, the proportion of female clergy has risen since the 1970s. Indeed, the 1960s census occupational code included the category “clergymen.” The gendering of this occupational category reflects the expectations of the time. However, in the 1970s the census switched the category to the more gender neutral “clergy,” partly in response to the increasing number of women who were employed as congregational leaders. We explore the trends in occupational inequality among American clergy using national data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). Figure 1 shows the percent of female clergy per year from 1976 to 2016. Using a five-year average, we find that about 6 percent of clergy in the United States were female from 1976 to 1980. By 2012–2016, this proportion had increased to approximately 20 percent. This growth in the number of female clergy provides a context for understanding some of the unique aspects of occupational gender inequality within American congregations. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/4/387/3977935
  14. Linda Woodhead Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 3, 1 September 2017, Pages 247–262,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx031 Published: 08 August 2017 The rise of “no religion” has been swift in many formerly Christian liberal democracies, from the USA to Australia. In few places has it happened more decisively than in Britain where there is now a “no religion” majority and Christianity finds itself for the first time in second place. I have documented the rise of “no religion” in more detail elsewhere (Woodhead 2016a), but will begin this article with a summary account, not least because I have refined my understanding in a number of respects. After profiling the “nones” (those who tick the “no religion” box on censuses and surveys) I will make my first serious attempt to explain this profound cultural transition. My focus is Britain where I have carried out the most extensive research on “no religion,” but I look sideways to other parts of the world as well. THE NEW NORMAL If you attended a funeral in Britain in the 1980s you would have known exactly what to expect. It would have been organized by professional undertakers, led by a member of the Christian clergy, and taken place in a church or a crematorium. There would have been a funeral service with a set liturgical form and hymns would be sung. It would be orderly and predictable. Apart from the hymn-singing there would be few demands on you other than to show up and wear suitably sombre clothing. Traditionally, the service would be followed immediately by burial of the body, though in the course of the 20th century the growing popularity of cremation broke that link: cremation is now more common in Britain than burial. Ashes would be picked up by the family on a later date and might be buried in a graveyard or scattered somewhere of the family’s choosing, normally in private. Fast forward a few decades to 2015 and things have changed considerably. If you were organizing the funeral yourself you would have a great deal more choice. You would probably still use an undertaker to arrange it, but you might decide to do it yourself or engage a new kind of funeral director, often female, who offers a one-stop shop—literally in a shop premises in some cases—with everything done as you want it, including bringing in the sort of celebrant you desire (the triumph of retail over ecclesiastical). Even a traditional undertaker will now give you a choice of a religious or a secular celebrant, and there are many kinds to choose from, from humanist to “green.” You will be asked whether you want the ceremony (not “service”) to be celebratory, reflective, sad, humorous, solemn, or some combination of these. You also have more choice about how the body is disposed of and memorialized: where and whether to make a memorial, how to decorate it, and whether it should be temporary or permanent. It has become more common to start with a private ceremony for disposal of the body followed by a public ceremony to celebrate the life of the deceased. In short, almost everything is now up for grabs. For the previous 1500 years or so the vast majority of funerals in Britain had been Christian. Until recently, it was tautological to say “a Christian funeral.” By 2015 that had changed. When I asked a nationally representative sample what kind of funeral they would like, a quarter said Christian, 36 percent non-religious, and 23 percent a mix.1 The non-religious funeral had become completely normal. By “normal” I don’t just mean a matter of numbers—the point at which an absolute majority, more than half the population, chose a non-religious funeral—I also mean socially, culturally, and emotionally normal. I mean the point at which people feel perfectly comfortable with something and expect it. As recently as 1990, a non-religious funeral was still unusual. It would usually be performed by a humanist celebrant and would be a clear statement that the deceased was an atheist and wanted nothing to do with religion. By 2015, it was the Christian funeral which had become a bit strange. Fewer people knew when to stand up and when to sit down and they didn’t know how to sing the hymns. So the safer option for a bereaved family was to opt for a broadly non-religious funeral in which there were a few religious elements for older relatives, perhaps a prayer. By 2015, even humanist celebrants were facing stiff competition—they were the only ones to retain a commitment to secular atheism, while a plethora of other kinds of non-clerical celebrant were happy to allow people to design whatever a sort of celebration they wanted. A Christian funeral had become a religious statement, something which would exclude as well as include, not just “what everyone does,” but explicitly secular funerals had not taken its place. Something more intriguing was happening, something which had blurred the traditional categories of social–scientific reflection: the religious and the secular. THE RISE OF “NO RELIGION” Because I have been studying religion in Britain for the last quarter century my career as a sociologist of religion has coincided with the rise of “no religion.” Between 2007 and 2015, I was Director of a national research program called “Religion and Society” which generated a great deal of new, mainly qualitative, data giving fascinating glimpses of what was happening in Britain and abroad.2It encouraged me to begin interviewing nones and researching funerals and other rituals, and I embarked on an experiment with a professional photographer, Liz Hingley, in which we asked people to come to be photographed by her with a “spiritual object,” after which I would interview them about their choice. Between 2013 and 2015 I also carried out a series of large, nationally representative surveys in Britain in order to gauge the nature and extent of what we were finding in the more in-depth empirical work.3 ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/3/247/4079669
  15. Sociology of Religion, Volume 75, Issue 2, 1 June 2014, Pages 189–207,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sru013 Published: 12 March 2014 Abstract This address is a contribution to the study of “lived religion,” that is, the embodied and enacted forms of spirituality that occur in everyday life. Like the children's books that ask “where's Waldo,” sociologists are invited to think about the many ways in which we need to refocus our work in order to see the religion that often appears in unexpected places. As the discipline has broadened its geographical and cultural vision, it also must broaden its understanding of what religion is. Religion is neither an all-or-nothing category nor a phenomenon that is confined to a single institutional sphere. Understanding the multilayered nature of everyday reality and the permeability of all social boundaries makes a more nuanced study of religion possible. Using data from the “Spiritual Narratives in Everyday Life” project, it is suggested that religion can be found in the conversational spaces—both in religious organizations and beyond—where sacred and mundane dimensions of life are produced and negotiated. Those of you who have spent any time with a young child in the last 25 years are probably familiar with a certain red-and-white-stripe-wearing lad named Waldo (Handford 1988). Perhaps you have snuggled up next to a curious youngster poring over elaborate scenes and asked each other, “Where's Waldo?” There are all sorts of reasons that Waldo may be frustratingly invisible, but he is always there. What I want to suggest in this lecture is that our discipline has often been just about as perplexed in its study of religion as the five year old looking for Waldo. A variety of things have kept sociologists from seeing the manifestations of religion in everyday social life, but I hope to provide here at least a few ideas about how we might sharpen our analytical focus and find Waldo1 more easily. FOCUSING ON LIVED RELIGION The religion I want to talk about here is of the “lived religion” variety. While belief and membership—two of our staples for identifying Waldo—are certainly a part of what lived religion entails, instead of starting from official organizations and formal membership, I want to begin with everyday practice; instead of taking the experts and official theology as definitive, I will join the lived religion scholars in arguing that we need a broader lens that includes but goes beyond those things.2 The lived religion we will be looking for is closely related to “popular religion,” which is usually taken to mean the religion of the ordinary people that happens beyond the bounds and often without the approval of religious authorities. Students of popular religion have turned our attention to festivals and shrines, ritual healing practices, and stories of miracles, for instance. Lived religion does often happen on the margins between orthodox prescriptions and innovative experiences, but religion does not have to be marginal to be “lived.” What happens inside religious organizations counts, too. Those who wish to “de-center” congregations and other traditional religious communities will miss a great deal of where religion is lived if those spaces are excluded from our research endeavor. Lived religion is not, then, identical to popular religion. Both approved traditional practices and new innovations may be “lived.” Waldo may be placing flowers on the spontaneous shrine in the marketplace, but he may also be at shul. Looking for lived religion does mean that we look for the material, embodied aspects of religion as they occur in everyday life, in addition to listening for how people explain themselves. It includes both the experiences of the body and the mind. There is now a considerable literature that makes clear the peculiar Protestant lineage of our sociological preoccupation with belief, and lived religion is a category that attempts to overcome that constraint.3 The study of lived religion includes attention to how and what people eat, how they dress, how they deal with birth and death and sexuality and nature, even how they modify hair and body through tattoos or dreadlocks. Lived religion may include the spaces people inhabit, as well—the construction of shrines in homes or in public places, for instance. And it includes the physical and artistic things people do together, such as singing, dancing, and other folk or community traditions that enact a spiritual sense of solidarity and transcendence. Some of these rituals and traditions may be widely recognized as religious and named as such, but research on lived religion also includes activities that might not immediately be seen as spiritual or religious by outsiders, but are treated as such by the people engaged in them. In other words, the Waldo we should be looking for is wearing a wide variety of expressions of connection to spiritual life. Finding religion in everyday life means looking wherever and however we find people invoking a sacred presence. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/75/2/189/1652239
  16. American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present , by PHILIP GORSKI . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017, 336 pp.; $35.00 (hardcover).Geneviève Zubrzycki Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 492–494,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx052 Published: 16 November 2017 American society is at a crossroads. It is deeply divided and the level of public discourse is at an all-time low. Recovering and reviving the “vital center” of politics is crucial. American civil religion opens a path toward this goal, argues Philip Gorski in American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present. The book is at once an analysis and a plea: thus Gorski addresses readers “as citizens first and scholars second” (11). He offers a public sociology that combines social intervention with scientific rigor, historical breadth, and analytical depth. The writing is erudite, lucid, and elegant. Gorski takes up the concept of civil religion from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s initial use of the phrase, but more immediately from his mentor Robert N. Bellah’s influential essay, “Civil Religion in America” (1967). Bellah argued in Durkheimian fashion that “a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals with respect to sacred things and institutionalized in a collectivity” existed in the United States from the beginning of the Republic (8). Bellah described that set of practices and phenomena as a religion; as a civil religion that was in no way “antithetical to and indeed sharing much in common with Christianity, and which “was neither sectarian nor in any specific sense Christian” (8). Americancivil religion proper is an institutionalized collection of beliefs and rituals mixing together religious and secular imagery that sacralizes the American nation and endows it with a divine mission. Bellah’s emphasis (like Gorski’s) was on a set of beliefs as they were articulated in canonical texts such as the constitution and presidential addresses, more than in specific rituals expressing outward faith in the American creed. More generally, civil religion in Bellah’s formulation refers to the “religious dimension found […] in the life of every people, through which it interprets its historical experience in the light of transcendent reality” (1992:3). Civil religion, then, is a framework for understanding a nation’s history and identity and a guide to structure the present and future. For Gorski, Bellah’s definition is problematic insofar as it does not draw a sharp enough distinction between civil religion and religious nationalism. Gorski thus moves beyond civil religion per se to provide an analysis of civil religion’s relation to other political theologies coexisting and competing in American life. American Covenant’s main contribution to the social sciences lies precisely in presenting a nuanced and clear picture of the fields of religion and politics by introducing key distinctions between civil religion, religious nationalism, and radical secularism. Together, these competing political theologies have shaped the American political landscape. In the right corner is American religious nationalism, which Gorski defines as a “toxic blend of apocalyptic religion and imperial zeal that envisions the United States as a righteous nation charged with a divine commission to rid the world of evil and usher in the Second Coming. […] At its core, religious nationalism is just national self-worship. It is political idolatry dressed up as religious orthodoxy” (2–3). In the left corner is the no less problematic “radical secularism,” “[a] blend of cultural elitism and militant atheism that envisions the United States as part of an Enlightenment project threatened by the ignorant rubes who still cling to traditional religion” (2). Radical secularism is a synthesis of radical individualism and total “separationism” (78), the view according to which not only religious and political institutions should be separated (as advocated by civil religion), but that religion and politics grosso modo must be kept apart. Whereas radical secularism advocates for a total separation, and religious nationalism for maximum fusion (Figure 1, p. 18), civil religion concedes a partial overlap between religion and politics. As a via media between two extremes, one that is increasingly narrowing and at risk, civil religion must be rescued and drastically expanded if the United States is to fulfill its promise as a righteous Republic. As Gorski writes, one of his goals in American Covenant is “to recuperate a certain tradition within American political culture to demonstrate that it has been a living and evolving tradition, and to identify certain exemplary figures within that tradition from whom we might still draw some measure of inspiration today” (11). How to carry out this salvage and recuperative mission? Gorski’s method is an archeology of those respective political theologies. He slowly digs and peels away layers of sediment to reveal how these theologies emerged and evolved, and how the relationships between them shifted over time. This is laborious work, built on a careful reading of canonical texts and a meticulous intellectual history of the ideological roots of these visions of the Republic. Gorski presents a genealogy of profiles: statesmen, political philosophers, public intellectuals, and religious leaders, from Abraham Lincoln to John C. Calhoun, to Frederick Douglass, John Dewey, Jane Addams, and Reinhold Niebuhr; from Hannah Arendt and Martin Luther King, to Reagan, Bush, and Obama. Ultimately Gorski traces the beginnings of civil religion to earlier than Rousseau’s 1968 [1762] creation of the phrase to show that civil religion emerged in the Puritan period. This was “Godly Republicanism,” and it left a deep mark on American self-understanding via the borrowing of the Exodus narrative and its national canonization. The American Revolution and the Civil War further solidified a sense of divine destiny and covenant, ultimately shaping democratic republicanism. Closely related to civil religion, however, was a more insistent sense of exceptionalism as it developed into religious nationalism. Religious nationalism also originated in Puritan New England but matured later, during Reconstruction and the territorial expansion to the west and south, thanks to a rapid influx of immigrants during that period. By the last third of 1800s, “the basic elements of American religious nationalism were now assembled: empire, race, ethnicity and religion. In this vision, the true America was white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant and destined to rule the world” (97). As it expanded, its center moved from New England to the Old South, where it still thrives. Radical secularism soon followed, arriving on the heels of the Civil War. While it crystalized in that period, it remained restricted to a small elite within the Republican party. Yet its seeds were sown among the liberal professions, in the ranks of lawyers, journalists, scientists, and teachers, a new class of knowledge workers who by the 1950s had displaced the old Protestant elites from the courts, the print media, and educational institutions (107). Gorski argues that while the introduction of full-blown radical secularism in the public sphere broke down the polarity between civil religion and nationalism, it actually further polarized political discourse, now structured by and around the two extremes, shrinking and enfeebling civil religion in the process, and thus preparing the way for the culture wars of the 1980s, which continue in the present. Gorski concludes American Covenant with potential antidotes to the political corruption that has poisoned the Republic and chipped away at citizens’ shared civic sense: banishing big money from the political process, bringing civic holidays back to their roots, providing character-based civic education, and establishing a universal system of national service (229–230). These recommendations are meant to rebuild the “vital center” so that it can push back to the margins the leftist radical secularism and rightist religious nationalism responsible for waging the culture wars that have eroded the original American dream of the righteous Republic. This, Gorski argues, is not only imperative but urgent. He insists, “if we fail to rebuild the vital center it will mean the end not only of American democracy—what is now left of it, anyway—but of the American creed itself: e pluribus unum” (233). Gorski’s recommendations are sensible, yet in the present moment they appear far out of reach, and unlikely to be seriously taken by political elites and policymakers. One hopes the book will receive the attention it deserves beyond academia, and begin to sow seeds to make the recommendations more plausible, encouraging discussions of the state of civil society, democracy, and public discourse in the United States and beyond. Within academia itself, American Covenant is certain to make a mark. Gorski’s volume provides a rich archaeology of the ways that religion remains at the core of American society; and in so doing, returns the sociology of religion to the center of the discipline. It is required reading. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/4/492/4636671?searchresult=1
  17. Simranjit Khalsa Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 3, 1 September 2017, Pages 340–362,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx023 Published: 08 July 2017 Abstract The religious demographics of the United States are changing, shaped by immigration and conversion of Americans to non-Western religious traditions. Research on nonwhite immigrant religious traditions has not addressed how communities of white converts challenge the link between religion and ethnicity. I address this gap, drawing on participant observation and 31 in-depth interviews with both Indian Sikhs and members of Sikh Dharma, a predominantly white Sikh community. I find that although respondents in each community draw on the same elements to construct Sikh identity (symbols, values, and practices); they diverge in regards to the specific practices they emphasize. Members of Sikh Dharma redefine both Sikh practice and the boundaries around Sikhism, incorporating new practices and beliefs while also critiquing the interconnection of Punjabi culture with Sikhism. Indian Sikhs express concern about the presentation of these new practices as Sikh practices. Results have implications for the ever-changing relationship of religion and ethnicity. Key words: race and ethnicity; immigration; identity; practice. Although scholars document a link between religion and ethnicity and debate the continued salience of this link in the modern world (Herberg 1955; Hammond and Warner 1993; Min 2010), they have done little to establish when and how the relationship of ethnicity to religion is challenged. The conversion of whites to what are predominantly nonwhite religious traditions provides the ideal opportunity to study this phenomenon. White converts, however, have received limited scholarly attention (see Cadge 2004 for an exception). Studying white converts in comparison to traditional practitioners sheds light on the relationship of religion and ethnicity, how this relationship is challenged, and the implications of such challenges for traditional religious practitioners. Sikh identity is closely bound to a Punjabi identity (Leonard 1992) and until Sikh Dharma, there was no sizable community of non-Punjabi Sikhs (Dusenbery 2013). Thus, Sikh Dharma challenges the link between religion and ethnicity and can reveal how the ethnic identity of converts is tied to both the content of religious traditions and the boundaries drawn around them. This study examines the relationship between religion and ethnicity and the implication of whites converting to religious traditions that are generally practiced by nonwhites. Specifically, I ask how members of two Sikh communities, Sikh Dharma and an Indian Sikh community, construct their Sikh identity and boundaries around this identity. Sikhism is a young, monotheistic religion that emphasizes equality and service. It originated in Punjab, a northeastern state in India, in the 1400s. Sikhs had 10 Gurus (spiritual teachers) who were leaders of the faith and following the 10th Guru, the Adi Granth (Sikh holy book) was proclaimed to be the 11th and final Guru. The primary goal of Sikhism is to achieve union with God by constantly remembering God’s name. Practice is oriented around three “golden rules”: to work hard, serve others, and speak the truth. Also important are a set of religious practices, including wearing a turban, waking up early in the morning to pray, and reciting five prayers daily. And in the 1940s the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC, a body of elected officials who manage Gurdwarasand Sikh affairs in three states of India) published a code of conduct called the Rehat Maryada. This code outlined the beliefs and practices of Sikhs and most “mainstream” Sikhs subscribe to this code. Defining Sikh identity, however, has been an ongoing project (Oberoi 1994). In recent decades in India and in Western countries such as the United States, there has been a growing emphasis on a single, collective Sikh identity among Sikhs, minimizing diversity within Sikhism and presenting Sikhism as wholly separate from Hinduism (Mahmood and Brady 2000). In fact, scholars who describe the construction of Sikh identity over the centuries, and its early ties to Hinduism, are often heavily criticized within the Sikh community (Oberoi 1994; Mahmood and Brady 2000). ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/3/340/3940212
  18. Jens Koehrsen Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 3, 1 September 2017, Pages 318–339,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx030 Published: 04 July 2017 Abstract Sect-to-church theory assumes that sects will become more church-like as members’ socioeconomic status improves. By abandoning tension-related characteristics, they decrease the level of tension with their social environment. Studying Pentecostal middle-class congregations in Argentina, this article shows that the reduction of tension involves impression management: the studied middle-class congregations display middle-class features (e.g., educational training) and selectively shield tension-related practices (e.g., glossolalia) from the glances of non-Pentecostal peers. Instead of abandoning tension-related practices to reduce tension, middle-class congregations strategically adjust their religious practices depending on the extent to which these are accessible for relevant outsiders, switching between sect-like and church-like styles of religion. Sect-to-church theory describes the circumstance under which sects turn into churches. Among other factors, social upward mobility of sects is thought to provoke such a transformation. When improving their socioeconomic status (SES), sects are assumed to leave behind the key attribute that distinguishes them from churches: high tension with their social environment. Abandoning tension-related characteristics (e.g., faith-healing, exorcisms), they turn increasingly into churches (cf. Niebuhr 1929; Stark and Bainbridge 1985; Iannaccone 1994; Stark and Finke 2000). However, when reducing the tension with their social environment, sects may leave behind distinctive characteristics, weakening the satisfaction that members experience from their participation (Iannaccone 1994; Poloma 2005:59; Tracey 2012:92). This study argues that religious organizations which experience upward social mobility may not necessarily abandon tension-related practices but selectively shield them. Drawing on the notion of impression management (cf. Goffman 1959; Elsbach, Sutton and Principe 1998; Bolino et al. 2008; Joosse 2012), the study suggests that selective shielding processes allow for the simultaneous withdrawal and maintenance of tension-related practices: specific sect-like practices are transferred to protected back regions, thereby shielding them from exposure to the social environment; whereas church-like styles of religion are performed on the more visible front regions. Accordingly, performing sect-like or church-like styles of religion does not only depend on the long-run change of the SES of the group, but on the extent to which religious practices are potentially visible for relevant outsiders at a given moment in time. The possibility of switching between sect-like and church-like styles of religion mitigates the need to abandon distinctive, tension-related characteristics. Highlighting the impression management of religious organizations that face pressure to adapt to their social environment, this article proposes to regard these as moving flexibly between different points on the sect-to-church axis, rather than being located on a specific position on this axis. This contribution studies sect-to-church transitions among Pentecostal middle-class congregations (MCCs) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pentecostalism is perhaps globally the most widespread religious movement that falls into the sect category, while at the same time experiencing a growth in middle-class membership. Representing the fastest growing branch of Christianity in the 20th century, it has spread massively in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and, today, counts close to 600 million followers worldwide (Johnson 2013). Originally known as a lower-class movement that particularly attracted those most affected by the “pathogens of poverty” (Chesnut 1997:172), Pentecostalism is gaining momentum among middle classes (Martin 1995; Freston 1997; Stewart-Gambino and Wilson 1997; Martin 2002; Bastian 2008; Berger 2009; Hasu 2012). The impact that growing middle-class membership is having on the shape of Pentecostalism, however, is not well-studied: while middle-class Pentecostalism is more researched in the context of U.S.A. and megachurches (cf. Ellingson 2009; Poloma 1989), in Latin America, where the movement is the most prominent religious option after Catholicism, there are few empirical insights about the characteristics of Pentecostal congregations with high middle-class appeal. Scholars studying Latin American Pentecostalism have raised divergent assumptions regarding its shape: while some suppose social adaption processes among MCCs (cf. Corten 1995; Schäfer 2009a), others expect them to be inclined towards neo-Pentecostalism (cf. Martin 2002:4; Robbins 2004:121–122; O'Neill 2010:10; Ihrke-Buchroth 2013). The contribution of this article is two-fold: (1) on a theoretical level, it contributes to sect-to-church-theory by highlighting the impression management of religious organizations that face pressure to adapt to their social environment, and (2) empirically, it explores middle-class Pentecostalism in Argentina, examining assumptions about the development of middle-class Pentecostalism in Latin America. The article is structured as follows: the first section discusses sect-to-church theory, while the second section summarizes the two main academic perspectives on middle-class Pentecostalism in Latin America. The third section describes the methods of the research and the fourth section portrays empirical results on middle-class Pentecostalism in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The last section discusses the results against the background of insights on middle-class Pentecostalism in Latin America and draws conclusions for sect-to-church theory. The article employs specific abbreviations for Pentecostal MCCs and middle-class Pentecostals (MCPs): while “MCCs” refers to Pentecostal congregations that are composed by a majority of middle-class members, “MCPs” stands for middle-class individuals adhering to the Pentecostal movement. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/3/318/3924339
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