Currently employed at the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The Importance of Race and Religion in Social Service Providers†
Article first published online: 12 JUN 2013
© 2013 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
Social Science Quarterly
Volume 95, Issue 2, pages 393–410, June 2014
How to Cite
Hsu, B., Hackett, C. and Hinkson, L. (2014), The Importance of Race and Religion in Social Service Providers. Social Science Quarterly, 95: 393–410. doi: 10.1111/ssqu.12050
The authors will share all data and coding for replication purposes. Many thanks to Robert Wuthnow for generously sharing the Lehigh Valley data set, and for valuable suggestions. We also thank the participants of the Religion and Public Life Workshop at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, Cathy Richards Solomon, Bari Meltzer, and Brian McCabe for helpful comments.
- Issue published online: 2 MAY 2014
- Article first published online: 12 JUN 2013
The objectives of this study are to investigate the traits that clients find important in professional social service providers, comparing confidence in client management skills (friendliness, experience, and knowledge) to desire for demographic characteristics (being of the same race and religion).
To accomplish this task, we use multiple regression to analyze results of the Lehigh Valley Trust Survey of low-income recipients of social services.
While most respondents find the professional traits important, there is significant variation in whether respondents consider demographic characteristics to be important. We find that having a provider of the same race is very important for African Americans and Hispanics, while having a provider with similar religious beliefs is extremely important for evangelical Protestants. Other predictive variables for homophilous preferences in race and religion are age, mobility, and education.
Professional skills corresponding to organizational position are important to most people, but specific demographic groups prioritize racial, ethnic, and religious homophily. While we suggest some possible explanations (perceived or actual discrimination and cultural concordance), further research is needed to determine the causes.