Individualized religious styles : a latent class analysis of religion and its implications for political attitudes and family formation outcomes.
This dissertation proposes a new way to measure and analyze religiosity. It focuses on capturing the unique ways individuals express and encounter religion. In the American religious context, religious pluralism and declining religious authority create an ideal environment for the thriving of individualized religious styles. This study uses latent class analysis to determine underlying classes, or patterns of responses in the data, to forge a new classification system. Data come from the General Social Survey, 2016. Analyses from the 2016 General Social Survey identify six latent classes: Actives, Monthly Attenders, Affiliated Attending Doubters, Affiliated Non-Attenders, Transcenders and Non- Believers. The results indicate that the six latent classes derived from the analysis serve as a significant indicator on a multitude of other variables. These new religious classes uncover various ways of being religious that are less tied to institutional religious groups and help parse out the differences between various types of religiosity that were previously obscured behind more traditional ways of measuring religion. This study models the differences between these religious classes and political outcome variables, such as one’s political views, political party identification, views on abortion and the death penalty. The results indicate that the six latent classes derived from the analysis serve as a significant indicator on the political outcome variables. In the final analytical chapter, the six religious classes are utilized to predict life course and family outcomes. These analyses model the differences between the six religious classes on traditional family variables, such as one’s whether one is married, traditional gender roles, the number of children one has, and the age at which their first child was born. The results indicate that the six latent classes derived from the analysis serve as a significant indicator on these family variables. Uncovering the individualistic types of religiosity that were previously obscured behind more traditional ways of measuring religion, allowed a new, more nuanced understanding of how one’s religious style influences their externalized and lived moral worldview.