Religion, values, and secularization in Europe: a multilevel. cross-national, comparative analysis of the European Values Study Data
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This thesis examines the relationship between religion and values through an analysis of the four waves of the European Values Study 1981 -2008. The thesis engages with key conceptualisations and theorisations of the relationship between religion and values from the fields of social psychology, classical and comparative sociology. These are then framed within major theories of social and cultural change, principally theories of modernization and secularization. The insights drawn from the theoretical literature are then formulated into a series of hypotheses that are tested in relation to a large subset of national samples from the four waves of the European Values Study. Firstly, the analysis comprises a cross-national comparison of the relationship between different dimensions of religiosity and values in different domains. The findings of these analyses suggest that there is considerable accord across Europe and over time, in the relationship between each dimension of religiosity and values in different domains. Secondly, the analysis assesses the strength and stability of the relationship between religiosity and values relative to key sociodemographic variables. The findings here show the relationship between each dimension and values is one that is relatively strong in comparison to, and net of the effects of, important sociodemographic variables. Thirdly, the analysis moves from the micro level to the macro level, and through multilevel analyses, assesses the degree to which individual religiosity, individual values, and their micro-level relationship, are contingent on macro-characteristics of societies. The findings here suggest that macro-level differences between societies are important in explaining both religiosity and values. Furthermore, the findings show that the relationship between religiosity and values is one that is contingent on these differences. In relation to macro-level characteristics used to explain these differences, operationalizations of core concepts in modernization and secularization theories, the findings are broadly supportive of secularization theory, with some noteworthy exceptions. Finally, the research asserts the importance of operationalizing the strong macro-level theory that makes up secularization paradigm in future empirical research.
KeywordsEuropean Values Study 1981 - 2008
Religion and values