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Religiosity and Social Network Diversity: Decomposing the “Divided by Faith” Theoretical Framework

Authors


  • The corresponding author (Dr. Porter) agrees to share all data and coding for purposes of replication. The authors would like to thank the very helpful editorial and reviewer comments that they received throughout the review process at SSQ.

Direct correspondence to Dr. Jeremy R. Porter, School of Business, CUNY-Brooklyn College, 218 Whitehead Hall, 2900 Bedford Avenue, New York, NY 11210 〈jporter@brooklyn.cuny.edu〉.

Abstract

Objectives

Our objective is to extend previous structural explanations of religious belonging and denominational variations concerning “closed communities” and the “divided by faith” thesis to the individual level by testing the effect of religious affiliation and church membership on levels of self-reported social network diversity among a nationally representative sample.

Methods

Survey data from the Panel Study—American Religion and Ethnicity (PS-ARE) were used to examine individual-level variations in social network diversity. A multifaceted measure of diversity was decomposed to examine racial, gender, educational, and occupational variations in network diversity using a series of hierarchical linear models.

Results

Our results show that while previous structural explanations suggest that religious belonging is likely to lower the diversity of one's close social network at the individual level, the current findings indicate a positive relationship between religious membership and the diversity of one's close friendship network above and beyond the effects of denominational affiliation.

Conclusions

The results of the decomposition component analyses along with the hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) strategy highlight the relatively distinct role of race in understanding the differing dynamics associated with the many indicators of diversity and religious belonging.

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