Research Analysis Lib Data

Research Analysis Lib Data

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Unformatted text preview: uicide and alternative measures of church participation. Over the past several decades, there has been the lingering question as to whether religion serves as a socially integrative force in a postindustrial society (Chaves and Gorski 2001; D’Antonio and Aldous 1983; Thomas 1988). The emphasis has been on whether modernization has weakened the role of religion and religious institutions in the exercise of social control (D’Antonio 1983; Hargrove 1983), resulting in increased secularization (Chaves 1994). Other arguments (Chaves and Gorski 2001) consider whether religious pluralism enhances or undermines religious vitality. The general conclusion is that religion remains an important mechanism of social control for persons who are heavily engaged in its practice. It has yet to be determined, however, whether religion operates as a means of social control because of the group sanctions imposed by other believers or as a socializing agent that accompanies religious activity (Thomas and Cornwall 1990). 340 LARRY C. MULLINS ET AL. The influence of religion as an integrative force emphasizes the sharedbelief system and common values that surround the ultimate questions of life. The essential theoretical question for this research centers on this issue: Does the extent of shared religious affiliation within a community serve as a positive, moderating, and/or integrative influence on marriage? If so, then it would be expected that the rate of currently divorced people will be lower where there is greater identification with fewer religious organizations, even after controlling for other factors known to be associated with divorce. Ellison, Burr, and McCall (1997) asked a similar question regarding the effects of religious homogeneity on metropolitan suicide rates. After considering established covariates of suicide, their analysis revealed that greater levels of religious homogeneity were associated with lower suicide rates. Religious Factors Associated with Divorce What is the direct impact of religious involvement on the rate of the currently divorced? Research indicates that interfaith marriages are more likely to end in divorce than intrafaith ones (Heaton and Pratt 1990) and that participation in religious communities subordinates personal desires while enhancing collective goals, thus promoting stability (Larson and Goltz 1989). Both partners regularly attending religious services and claiming a same or similar religious affiliation are key elements in decreasing the likelihood of divorce (Call and Heaton 1997). Studies of religious homogamy suggest that having a partner with the same or doctrinally similar religious beliefs increases marital stability. These findings are consistent with Durkheim’s (1965) view of religion as an integrative force in social life. Lehrer and Chiswick (1993) concluded that while stability was similar across homogeneous unions regardless of denomination, interfaith marriages had much higher probabilities of dissolution by the fifth year of the marriage. When one of the partners converted to the other’s religion, the stability was similar to that of the naturally homogeneous couples, thus lending strong support for the homogeneity argument of the current study. Similarly, marital happiness is higher among couples who share religious doctrines and rituals. The larger the disparity between the practices of the couple’s religious affiliations the greater the likelihood of marital unhappiness (Ortega, Whitt, and Williams 1988). Therefore, a concentrated pool of eligibles is more likely to result in an intrafaith marriage, which, in turn is less likely to end in divorce. Researchers have shown that persons claiming no religious affiliation have the highest divorce rates of any group, the rate of divorce is lower for Jews than Roman Catholics, and the rate for Catholics is lower than that for Protestants (Brodbar-Nemzer 1986; Glenn and Supancic 1984), though more recent studies do not find the same effects for Catholicism (Lehrer and Chiswick 1993). Among Protestants, the rate is highest among those generally considered to be the THE IMPACT OF RELIGIOUS HOMOGENEITY 341 more conservative denominations. As early as the 1970s, fundamentalists were reported as having higher divorce rates than other groups (Coombs and Zumeta 1970). The reasons for this pattern are theoretically intriguing, but beyond the scope of the current examination. Nonetheless, it appears to be well established that the degree of formal religious involvement of individuals impacts the likelihood of being divorced. Booth, Johnson, Branaman, and Sica (1995) examined several studies regarding the interface between religion and marital quality. In their discussion, they summarized conclusions from these studies, several of which are germane to the current research. Marital quality, for example, as Bo...
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This note was uploaded on 01/27/2014 for the course SOCI 3040 taught by Professor Lauramckinney during the Fall '13 term at Tulane.

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