The Effect of Non-Affiliation With Religion on Religiosity and Pro-Social Ties
This dissertation examines the effect of non-affiliation with religion on religiosity and pro-social ties. Using panel data from the General Social Survey from 2006 to 2010, longitudinal analyses confirm the negative effect of non-affiliation with religion on religiosity.
A major development in the sociology of religion has found that an increasing proportion of the American population identifies as religious non-affiliates (i.e., they claim no affiliation with a religion, but are still religious) or affiliation with no denomination (i.e., they are affiliated with a religion but claim no specific denomination within that religion). Research indicates that non-affiliation and affiliation with no denomination are associated with lower levels of religious beliefs and participation. This study systematically differentiates religious non-affiliation from affiliation with no denomination, with the latter being similar to their denominational counterparts. Implicit in these findings regarding the variation across a spectrum of religious affiliation is the importance of affiliation for beliefs and participation. The importance of collective representation or social group regarding religious phenomena is grounded in a Durkheimian theory of religion. Individuals are religious, yet their lack of affiliation or strong adherence to a particular socio-religious group appears to be a significant indicator of individual religiosity.
The larger picture that emerges is that methodological consideration and treatment of religious affiliation and non-affiliation require systematic attention and detail. The current religious landscape reflects a pluralistic dynamic in regards to affiliation and religiosity. Furthermore, the absence of a socio-religious group, affiliation, or "moral community", is critical in the outcomes of religious phenomena.