Religious Identity In Different Cultures Sociology Essay Example
Religious Identity In Different Cultures Sociology Essay Example

Religious Identity In Different Cultures Sociology Essay Example

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We argue that it is possible to through empirical observation prove some of the posits of the classical differentiation between an intrinsic and an extrinsic spiritual orientation: we investigated how people perceive the difference between an person and a societal spiritual individuality, between a cardinal versus a peripheral religionism, and which are the different motivations efficaciously underlying these different signifiers of spiritual individuality. Using an ecological step based on four types of participants ' self-categorization, consequences from a longitudinal survey across six states provided a new model for construing spiritual individuality. In peculiar, spiritual individuality was chiefly categorized at a societal degree by European respondents, whereas nonwestern respondents largely rated it at an single degree ; spiritual individuality was perceived as every bit cardinal at the person and societal degrees of classification. Last, we compared the strength of different individuality motivations underlying these different signifiers of spiritual individuality. In the decisions, we discuss the importance of look intoing the different ways of being spiritual, and how they differ harmonizing to the specific experience of religionism in a peculiar national context.

Keywords: spiritual individuality ; individuality motivations ; spiritual orientation ; cross-cultural.

The Categorization of Religious Identity in Different Cultures

`` Is there a individual signifier of the spiritual sentiment? '' This inquiry was the first question of Allport 's seminal book The person and his Religion ( 1950, p.3 ) : it is clear even in mundane life experience that persons differ radically from one another in their ways of being spiritual and that each individual endors


es the spiritual individuality with a different speech pattern. Some old ages subsequently, Allport and Ross ( 1967 ) developed the well-known differentiation between intrinsic and extrinsic spiritual orientations. In this model, the intrinsic orientation is typical of an person who lives religionism as something personal, chiefly dwelling of private look, cardinal in life and fulfilling the single demand for intending ; on the other manus, the extrinsic oriented single chiefly lives the societal facet of religionism, sing faith as something peripheral in his/her being and that responds to societal demands, such as the demand for belonging or for high societal position. Even if it has been widely used, many bookmans pointed out the failing if this definition and the argument on how to specify spiritual individuality is still unfastened.

Here, we focus on two parts, which we investigated in a cross-cultural survey of late striplings. The first facet concerns the degree of classification of spiritual individuality: in the intrinsic orientation, religionism is personal and endorsed at an single degree, whereas the extrinsic type is chiefly associated with a societal degree and therefore with group belonging. Does this differentiation correspond to existent life experience of spiritual individuality? Is it possible to separate between an person ( or personal ) versus a societal ( group belonging ) spiritual individuality?

The 2nd aspect trades with the construction of individuality: for an intrinsic oriented person, spiritual individuality is cardinal and of primary importance, while it is peripheral and superficially endorsed in the extrinsic 1. Does the differentiation between single and societal spiritual individuality entail a difference between a cardinal versus a peripheral

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spiritual individuality?

In amount, this empirical survey investigated in an ecologic model if some people perceive their ain spiritual individuality as an single feature, whereas others as a group belonging, and the deductions of this difference for the apprehension of spiritual individuality.

The Level of Categorization of Religious Identity: Individual and Social Religious Self

Harmonizing to the word picture of the spiritual orientations provided by Allport and Ross ( 1967 ) , some people live religionism as something personally chosen and separately endorsed, whereas other people live religionism chiefly as a belonging to a societal group. In the literature, research into religionism sometimes see the single facet of faith, for illustration lone personal supplication ( e.g. Fincham, Lambert, & A ; Beach, 2010 ) , while at other times consider the societal side of religionism, for illustration the feeling of belonging to a group and the committedness toward this group ( e.g. Vekuyten & A ; Yildiz, 2010 ) .

Cohen, Hall, Koenig, and Meador ( 2005 ) argued that the importance of societal facets in faith can be viewed as a cultural word picture of certain spiritual denominations ( see besides Cohen, Siegel, & A ; Rozin, 2003 ; Hall, Meador, Koenig, 2008 ) ; for illustration, the accent on communitarian facets ( praying together, experiencing a sense of belonging ) is stronger in certain denominations, whereas in other denominations the accent is more on single religionism ( e.g. beliefs, transition, personal supplication ) . Another possible account for the different accent put on the single versus societal side of religionism can be found in general civilization: the differences between individualistic and collectivized civilizations might besides impact differences in spiritual individuality ( Triandis, 1995 ) . The six states included in the present survey all have a Christian historical background ( paired with Islam in Lebanon ) , but they differ in degrees of individuality and Bolshevism ( Triandis, 1995 ) . Therefore, we explored the inquiry about the person or societal word picture of spiritual individuality in a big sample of different civilizations, leting to compare between individualistic and collectivized states.

To our cognition, no survey to day of the month has investigated with an ecologic attack what people really feel about their spiritual individuality. A first intent in the present survey is to look at what people say when they think about their spiritual individuality. In peculiar, we proposed to look at four possible degrees of classification, pulling on self- classification theory ( Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & A ; Wetherell, 1987 ) : an single degree, a relational degree, a little group degree and a big group degree. We expected that some people perceive their ain spiritual individuality chiefly as a personal feature, whereas others perceive it as a group belonging, etc. Therefore, we examined which degree of classification people associate their spiritual individuality with if straight asked, without any kind of priming ( e.g. without influence by instructions or by item preparation ) .

The Structure of Identity: Cardinal and Peripheral Religious Self

The inquiry about the centrality of religionism in the single ego is presuming turning importance in the literature. In

fact, it is argued that the single differences in centrality of the spiritual ego may besides ensue in different grades of integrating of faith in life, and therefore to different results ( Pargament, 2002 ) . Harmonizing to Allport and Ross ' ( 1967 ) theorisation, intrinsic and extrinsic religionism imply a different grade of centrality of faith in the person 's life: the intrinsic orientation entails centrality in life, i.e. subjective importance of faith, and it is seen as a more mature signifier of religionism, whereas in the extrinsic signifier religionism is a more peripheral portion of life. Given that the writers consider intrinsic signifier of religionism chiefly as single religionism, they besides assume that the single spiritual ego is more cardinal than the societal ( extrinsic ) spiritual ego, which is seen as more peripheral.

However, this distinct resistance is questioned from many parts ( e.g. Pargament, 1992 ; Burris, 1994 ) . Flere and Lavric ( 2007 ) argued that intrinsic spiritual orientation is a culturally specific American Protestant construct and concluded that it is clip for bookmans to near the inquiry of the `` genuineness [ italics added ] of non-intrinsic spiritual orientation, including societal extrinsic orientation non merely as sociableness, but as a legitimate way for accomplishing grace and redemption '' ( p. 529 ) .

Therefore, we argue that research into the sensed centrality of different types of spiritual egos would derive lucidity by being investigated cross-culturally, comparing across civilizations the sensed importance of religionism in the person, relational or societal ego.

In the present survey, we investigated the centrality - measured as sensed subjective importance - of spiritual ego in individuality in a cross-cultural sample from six states, including both western and nonwestern states. We examined if people who define their spiritual individuality more in footings of single versus relational versus societal ego besides show different grades of centrality of that spiritual individuality. Harmonizing to the grounds provided by Cohen and co-workers ( 2005 ) , and Flere and Lavric ( 2007 ) , the societal facets of religionism can be perceived every bit of import as the single facets by the individual herself ; therefore, we expected to detect tantamount grades of centrality at all degrees of classification.

The Present Study

This survey is based on secondary analysis of a information set of a broader longitudinal survey into civilization and individuality ( Becker, Vignoles, Owe, Brown, Smith, Easterbrook, et al. , 2012 ) . For the intent of the present research, we examined six different cultural contexts: three European states from different parts of Europe ( UK, Belgium, Italy ) and three non European states, specifically a Middle East state ( Lebanon ) , one in East Asia ( Philippines ) and one in sub-Saharan Africa ( Ethiopia ) . These states represent six really different cultural contexts in which spiritual individuality can develop, with changing degrees of individuality and Bolshevism ( Triandis, 1995 ) : the UK, Italy and Belgium have similar high rates for individuality, while Lebanon, Philippines and Ethiopia are all collectivized states ( Hofstede, 2001 ) . We hypothesized that in all these

contexts people can comprehend their spiritual individuality at different degrees of classification, with deductions for the centrality of spiritual individuality and for the motivations underlying each type of spiritual ego.

In the old subdivisions of this paper, we accounted for the differentiation between single and societal spiritual ego ; so we exposed the centrality or non centrality of spiritual individuality and the multiplicity of motivations that can be at the footing of spiritual individuality. The survey reflects this form and provides replies to three research inquiries: ( 1 ) Are there persons who categorize their spiritual individuality as single and others who categorize their individuality as relational or societal? Our hypothesis, following Cohen at Al. ( 2005 ) , was that participants define their spiritual individuality both as single and as societal. ( 2 ) Is the single spiritual self the most cardinal spiritual individuality? Our hypothesis, consistent with Cohen et Al. ( 2005 ) and Flere and Lavric ( 2007 ) findings that both single and societal motivations can hold the same importance in spiritual individuality, was that, irrespective of civilization, the sensed centrality of spiritual individuality is tantamount at the person, relational and group degree of individuality.


Participants. Participants were a subsample of the broader research undertaking, constituted by secondary school pupils in the UK, Belgium, Italy, Lebanon, Philippines, and Ethiopia. A sum of 1,793 participants took portion in the survey. The average age was 17.5 ( SD 1.1 ) ; 257 were occupants in the UK, 194 in Belgium, 187 in Italy, 300 in Lebanon, 250 in Ethiopia, and 300 in the Philippines.

Demographic information sing age, gender, general religionism ( average rates for `` How of import is faith to you? `` , from 1 `` non at all '' to 5 `` highly '' ) and spiritual belonging in each national sample are presented in Table 1.

Table 1.

Participants Characteristics and Religious Belonging by Sample.







United kingdom

Average Age ( South Dakota )

17.7 ( 1.1 )

18.1 ( 1.0 )

18.1 ( 0.8 )

17.3 ( 0.5 )

17.9 ( 1.3 )

17.1 ( 0.8 )

% Female







Religiosity ( 1-5 )







% Christian







% Muslim







% Other







% no relig. belonging







Procedure. The research was introduced as a survey about `` sentiments, ideas and feelings '' ; participants were recruited through schools and were non compensated in any manner. As the present survey is based on secondary analysis, the research squad members who supervised the completion of the questionnaire were incognizant of the research 's purpose, so participants were non influenced about religion/religiosity. A questionnaire was filled out at the beginning of the school twelvemonth ( clip 1 ) and, after a period of about six months, another questionnaire was completed ( clip 2 ) . In states where this was an ethical demand, parental consent was obtained in progress.

Measures. Measures were included within a larger questionnaire refering individuality building and cultural orientation ( see Becker et Al, 2012 ; Owe et. Al, 2012 ) . The questionnaires were administered in English in UK and Philippines, and they were translated from English into French ( Belgium ) , Italian ( Italy ) , Arabic ( Lebanon ) and Amharic ( Ethiopia )

in each state. Independent back-translations were made by bilinguals who were non familiar with the research subject and hypotheses. Ambiguities and incompatibilities were identified and resolved by treatment, seting the interlingual renditions. Merely the steps relevant to this article are described here.

Coevals of individuality facets. First, participants were asked to bring forth freely 10 replies to the inquiry `` Who are you? '' ( afterlife, these replies will be referred to as individuality facets ) , utilizing an altered version of the Twenty Statements Test ( TST, Kuhn & A ; McPartland, 1954, see Becker et al. , 2012 ) . This portion of the questionnaire was located at the really beginning of the questionnaire, so that responses would be constrained every bit small as possible by theoretical outlooks or demand features. The 10 facets generated by respondents at clip 1 were re-presented at clip 2 and participants re-evaluated them after the clip slowdown.

Self-categorization of individuality facets. ( Vignoles et al. , 2006 ) . Participants were asked to bespeak for each individuality aspect the class that best fitted their individuality facet, by circling a missive ( possible picks: I, for single feature, R, for relationship with person, SM, for belonging to a little group, LG, for belonging to a big group ) . We adopted four classs in order to maximise the ecological attack and allow respondents take between more than a dichotomous option.

Identity centrality. ( Vignoles et al. 2006 ) . A inquiry measured the sensed centrality of each individuality aspect within participants ' subjective individuality constructions ( How of import is each of these things in specifying who you are? ; scale ground tackles were 0 = non at all of import, 10 = highly of import ) . The same point was answered both at clip 1 and at clip 2.

Identity motivations. ( Vignoles et al. , 2006 ) . Participants were asked to rate each of their individuality facets on the six individuality motivations. The inquiries measured the association of each individuality aspect with feelings of self-pride ( How much does each of these things make you see yourself positively? ) , peculiarity ( How much do you experience that each of these things distinguishes you-in any sense-from other people? ) , belonging ( How much does each of these things make you experience you `` belong '' -that you are include among or accepted by people who matter for you? ) , efficaciousness ( How much does each of these things make you experience competent and capable? ) , continuity ( How much does each of these things give you a sense of continuity-between yesteryear, present and future-in your life? ) , intending ( How much does each of these things give you the sense that your life is meaningful? ) . Scale ground tackles were 0 = non at all, 10 = highly.


After roll uping informations, we read all the individuality facets and selected the individuality aspects mentioning to faith, coding them as 1 and all other facets as 0. All the facets that mentioned God, Religion, belonging to spiritual organisations, etc. were

coded as spiritual individuality facets. Examples are: Christian, Religious, God fearing, Member of the Church, etc. The per centum of people who mentioned at least one spiritual individuality facet in each state were: Ethiopia 47 % , Philippines 33 % , Italy 13 % , Belgium 9 % , Lebanon 7 % , UK 6 % . Most of the undermentioned analyses, except where indicated, were conducted choosing merely participants ' spiritual individuality facets.

Self-categorization of spiritual individuality facets. The questionnaire point, as described before, allowed to take between single characteristic, relationship with person, belonging to a little group and belonging to a big group. The per centums of selected classs differed in each state sample. As we can see in Figure 1, European participants chiefly categorized their spiritual individuality facets as 'group belonging ' , while non-European participants labeled their spiritual individuality facets as 'individual feature ' in the bulk of instances ; 'relationship with person ' and 'small group ' were chosen by a minority of respondents. A Chi-square trial indicated important differences between states, I‡2 ( 15, 232 ) = 47.981, P & lt ; .001, Cramer 's V = .263.

We so checked if the differences in classification were connected to general civilization. We tested if it was a general inclination of western respondents to specify all their individuality aspects as `` group properties '' , but we found that this classification is specific to spiritual individuality facets: a Chi-square trial conducted on all individuality facets of the European samples indicated a important difference of classification between spiritual and non spiritual individuality facets, I‡2 ( 3, 1 ) = 33.645, P & lt ; .001, Cramer 's V = . 320. Conversely, the same Chi-square trial indicated no important differences of classification between spiritual and non spiritual individuality facets in the nonwestern samples, I‡2 ( 3, 1 ) = 665, P =.881.


Figure 1. Percentages of self-categorization of spiritual individuality facets in each sample.

Centrality of spiritual individuality in the different degrees of classification. We tested the hypothesis that spiritual individuality facets would be perceived as more cardinal ( i.e. rated as more of import ) in an single spiritual ego ( facets labeled as single feature ) than in a relational ( facets labeled as relation with person ) or societal spiritual ego ( facets labeled as little group belonging or big group belonging ) . However, the ANOVA comparing the agencies of the four groups revealed no important differences in the centrality of the spiritual individuality facets ( F ( 3,202 ) = 1.61, P = .189 ) . Average centrality for each degree of classification is reported in Figure 2. Therefore, all degrees of classification of spiritual individuality are associated to the same grade of importance for the individual who endorses one of them.

Figure 2. Mean individuality centrality of the spiritual ego by degree of classification. Numbers in parentheses report standard divergences.

Centrality was significantly different between states ( F ( 5,202 ) = 6.40, P & lt ; .001 ; I·2p = .14 ) . However, the Category X Country interaction was non-significant ( F ( 14,202

) = 1.01, P = .447 ) , intending that, even if participants from different states perceive different mean degrees of centrality, the differences in sensed centrality between classs are non affected by the cultural facets of each national sample.


Our purpose was to research different signifiers of spiritual individuality in different states. The survey measured the happening of spiritual individuality with an ecological process, where participants freely generated facets of their individualities. In states with a higher average religionism, a higher figure of participants listed a spiritual individuality facet in their individuality. We foremost investigated the degree of self-categorization ( Turner et al. , 1987 ) that participants choose for the spiritual facets of their individuality. Interesting between-country differences were observed: most Western participants rated their spiritual individuality as group belonging, whereas nonwestern participants rated it as single feature. This form does non fit the traditional individualist-collectivist differentiation ( Triandis, 1995 ) , and it can non be explained by general civilization ( as tested by the comparing with other, non-religious, individuality facets of the same participants ) , but likely reflects something more specifically connected with spiritual traditions and wonts. These consequences are in line with Cohen et Al. ( 2005 ) and add to the bing theory the specification that the importance of societal versus single facets of spiritual individuality varies non merely by spiritual denomination but besides by the specific experience of religionism in a specific national context. It could be, for illustration, that in Western states, where faith is non so widespread, people who experience religionism needfully hold this experience by agencies of association with a peculiar group. On the contrary, in states in which faith is more widespread, persons can populate a spiritual experience separately and without come ining a specific group.

The 2nd purpose of our survey was to compare spiritual individuality centrality at different degrees of classification: literature about intrinsic and extrinsic spiritual orientation suggests that a more personal degree of classification would co-occur with a more cardinal ( i.e. perceived as of import ) spiritual individuality ( Allport & A ; Ross, 1967 ) . However, we predicted, following Cohen et Al. ( 2005 ) and Flere and Lavric ( 2007 ) that the sensed importance of spiritual individuality should be the same for single, relational, and societal spiritual individuality. In support of this hypothesis, there were no important differences in the average rates of individuality centrality at the four degrees of self-categorization. Therefore, this disconfirms the differentiation between an extrinsic religionism that is peripheral and based on group belonging, and an intrinsic religionism that is cardinal and pertains to an single degree. In fact, both single degree and group level spiritual individuality have the feature of centrality that was a privilege of the exclusive intrinsic orientation.

Decisions and Deductions

A first deduction of these findings is the irrelevancy of a differentiation between a 'first category ' ( 'real ' , reliable, aˆ¦ ) and a 'second category ' ( peripheral, instrumental, aˆ¦ ) spiritual individuality reflecting the personal-social differentiation. In fact, even if it is possible to distinguish between different degrees of spiritual individuality

and to separate between a more personal spiritual individuality associated with sense of significance and a more societal spiritual individuality associated with demand for belonging ( as can be predicted by the traditional intrinsic-extrinsic differentiation ) , each type of spiritual individuality is cardinal for the person who lives it. Therefore, we agree with Flere and Lavric ( 2007 ) that the reliable spiritual look can non be confined into the intrinsic-individual orientation but should besides include the importance, for the person, of societal and relational facets of spiritual individuality.

A restriction of this survey lays in the theoretical resistance between single and societal ego: even if it was a necessary option for a first unsnarling of the different ways of being spiritual, we think that the two egos are non alternate and that an person could hold both a outstanding single spiritual ego and a outstanding societal spiritual ego. Indeed, some recent surveies uniting the two degrees - measurement at the same clip the person and societal side of spiritual individuality - show promising findings ( see for illustration, Brambilla, Manzi, Regalia, 2011 ; Verkuyten & A ; Yildiz, 2010 ) .

What should besides be farther explored, is the impact of the minority or bulk position of spiritual groups in a given state on the single perceptual experience of spiritual individuality. In fact, the unexpected observation, in our sample, of the prevalence of self-categorization of spiritual individuality as a `` group degree individuality '' among the western participants, elicits new inquiries. The impact of different denominations has already been investigated ( e.g. Toosi, & A ; Ambady, 2010 ) , but less is known about the influence of spiritual history of each state: it could be the instance that in more secularized states the spiritual individuality is connected to belonging to a specific group, whereas in more spiritual states persons can pattern their faith as something ordinary, refering to the bulk of people ( see besides Gebauer et Al, 2012 ; Sedikides & A ; Gebauer, 2010 ) . Another facet of possible influence is the interconnectedness between people 's spiritual individuality and the manner in which they enter in contact with a spiritual tradition, for illustration their spiritual group/community and its specific patterns ( attending of services, lone supplication, volunteering for an association, etc. ) and, before, the transmittal of religion within household ( see for illustration Assor, Cohen-Malayev, Kaplan, & A ; Friedman, 2005 ) .