ARDA LEARNING RESOURCES Exploring Congregations in America Exploring Congregations in America Congregations have been called the “basic unit” and “bedrock” of American religious life (Warner 1994; Chaves 1999). As one group of sociologists summarized (Chaves, Konieczny, Beyerlein and Barman 1999): [Congregations] are the primary site of religious ritual activity, they provide an organizational model followed even by religious groups new to this country, they provide sociability and community for many, they offer opportunities for political action and voluntarism, they foster religious identities through education and practice, and they engage in a variety of community and social service activities. In this learning module, you will explore a nationally representative survey of congregations in the United States to learn more about this central feature of American religion. If you find yourself lost at any point, look to the instructions on the right. COPYRIGHT ASSOCIATION OF RELIGION DATA ARCHIVES | 1 of 22
ARDA LEARNING RESOURCES Exploring Congregations in America Open your Web browser and go to the home page for the Association of Religion Data Archives. Studying congregations can be surprisingly difficult because there isn’t a comprehensive list of every congregation in the United States. This makes simple sampling techniques impossible. The National Congregations Study, however, solved this issue using innovative methods to create the first nationally representative sample of congregations. Let us begin by locating the instructional dataset for this file in the Data Archive. COPYRIGHT ASSOCIATION OF RELIGION DATA ARCHIVES | 2 of 22 Open your web browser. Go to Click on “Data Archive” in the main menu. Click on the “Browse Alphabetically” tab. Find “National Congregations Study, Cumulative Dataset (1998, 2006-2007, and 2012), Version 2 - Instructional Dataset”
ARDA LEARNING RESOURCES Exploring Congregations in America 1. The National Congregation Study has been conducted three times. When was each “wave,” or edition of the survey, completed? Wave 1: ____________ Wave 2: ____________ Wave 3: ____________ 2. According to the “Collection Procedures,” what individual within congregations typically answered the survey? (Hint: this person is often called the key informant.) _______________________________________________________ Let’s now begin exploring the findings of the National Congregations Study. You can find the full list of questions included in the survey by clicking on the “Codebook” tab. You can search this codebook by clicking on the “Search” tab and entering keywords. COPYRIGHT ASSOCIATION OF RELIGION DATA ARCHIVES | 3 of 22
ARDA LEARNING RESOURCES Exploring Congregations in America COPYRIGHT ASSOCIATION OF RELIGION DATA ARCHIVES | 4 of 22 Click on the “Search” tab.
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