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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  • Pages: 9 (2207 words)
  • Published: August 7, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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The empirical observation supports the differentiation between intrinsic and extrinsic spiritual orientation. Our study focused on individuals' perception of personal and societal spiritual identity, central versus peripheral religiosity, and the motivations behind these forms of spiritual identity. Using an ecological approach with four participant groups, our longitudinal survey across six countries revealed a new model for understanding spiritual identity. European respondents primarily categorized spiritual identity at a societal level, while nonwestern respondents predominantly rated it at an individual level. Both levels were considered equally important in terms of classification. We also compared the strength of different motivations underlying these various forms of spiritual identity. In conclusion, our research emphasizes the significance of studying diverse expressions of spirituality among individuals and acknowledging potential variations in different national contexts.

Keywords: spiritual identity;identity motiva


tions;spiritual orientation

The categorization of religious identity in various cultures transcends cultural boundaries, as discussed by Allport in his influential book "The Person and His Religion" (1950). Everyday life experiences demonstrate that individuals express their unique language pattern when it comes to their spiritual identity.Allport and Ross (1967) introduced the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic spiritual orientations. Individuals with an intrinsic orientation see religion as personal and private, holding significant importance in their lives and fulfilling their need for meaning. In contrast, those with an extrinsic orientation focus on the social aspect of religion, viewing it as less essential to their existence and driven by societal demands like a sense of belonging or high social status. However, this definition has faced criticism from scholars, leaving the debate on defining religious identity unresolved. In our cross-cultural survey of late adolescents, we examined how individuals classify their spiritua

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individuality and its connection to personal endorsement or group belonging. Our study aimed to explore whether the distinction between an individual's personal spiritual identity and their identity within a group reflects real-life experiences. Additionally, we sought to investigate if this distinction allows us to differentiate between different aspects of identity. Specifically, we analyzed how individuals with intrinsic orientation versus extrinsic orientation perceive spiritual individuality. Those with intrinsic orientation consider it fundamental, while those with extrinsic orientation view it as peripheral and superficially endorsed.In order to determine if there is a distinction between individual and societal spiritual identities, our study aimed to explore how certain individuals perceive their own spiritual identity as inherent or as part of their group identity. This empirical study was conducted within an ecological framework. The focus of the research on religionism often revolves around personal faith practices or societal belongingness. Allport and Ross (1967) suggest that individuals can view religion either as a personal choice or as part of a social group. Cohen et al.'s (2005) argument proposes that the significance of social aspects in religion can be seen as a cultural trait within specific denominations. This text examines differences in emphasis on communal activities and individual beliefs within Christian historical backgrounds, which are influenced by varying levels of individualism and collectivism found in countries such as Lebanon where Islam is prevalent. To explore the personal and social aspects of spiritual identity across cultures, we employed an ecological approach for the first time. Our main goal was to examine how individuals perceive their spiritual identity at different levels: individual, relational, small group, and large group.The text discusses the hypothesis that individuals

may perceive their spiritual identity either as a personal attribute or as a sense of group membership. The importance of religionism in one's individual identity is an increasingly significant topic. Differences in the centrality of the spiritual self can lead to varying degrees of faith integration and different outcomes. Allport and Ross propose a theory distinguishing between intrinsic and extrinsic religionism, which represent different levels of importance in an individual's life. They argue that intrinsic orientation is more significant, while extrinsic orientation is peripheral. Flere and Lavric challenge this viewpoint by suggesting that intrinsic spiritual orientation is specific to American Protestant culture, and propose examining non-intrinsic orientations for legitimacy in achieving grace and redemption. Thus, conducting a cross-cultural investigation into the perceived importance of various types of spiritual identities would be beneficial. This study aims to explore the centrality of spiritual identity within a sample from six countries encompassing western and nonwestern cultures.The aim of our study was to determine if individuals who define their spiritual identity based on individuality, relationships, or society would also exhibit varying levels of centrality for that identity. According to Cohen et al. (2005) and Flere and Lavric (2007), the social aspects of religionism can be equally important as individual aspects for individuals themselves. Therefore, we expected to observe similar levels of centrality across all classification levels. In addition, previous research by Becker et al. (2012) suggests that there are cultural differences in how individuals perceive the centrality of their spiritual identity. It has been proposed by Cohen et al. (2005) and Flere and Lavric (2007) that spiritual identity is influenced by both individual and societal motivations across different cultures

at the individual, relational, and group levels.

Participants: The participants in this study were a subset of a larger research project involving secondary school students from various countries including the UK, Belgium, Italy, Lebanon, Philippines, and Ethiopia. A total of 1,793 participants completed the survey with an average age of 17.5 (SD 1.1).The participant distribution by country is as follows: 257 in the UK, 194 in Belgium, 187 in Italy, 300 in Lebanon, 250 in Ethiopia, and 300 in the Philippines. Table 1 presents demographic information including age, gender, level of religiousness (measured on a scale from "not at all" to "highly"), and spiritual affiliation for each national sample.

Table 1 shows the characteristics and religious belonging of participants for each sample. The average age for South Dakota is 17.7 (1.1), Belgium is18.1 (1.0), Ethiopia is18.1 (0.8), Italy is17 .3 (0.5), Lebanonis17 .9(1 .3),Philippinesis17 .1(0 .8)andUnited Kingdomis.

The percentage of females in each country sample are as follows: Belgium -57%, Ethiopia-45%, Italy-61%, Lebanon-46%, Philippines-66%and United Kingdom -75%.

Religiosity levels on a scale from 1 to 5 are as follows: Belgium–2..14,Ethiopia–4..77 ,Italy –2..69 ,Lebanon –3..73 ,Philippines–4 ..03 , United Kingdom – --

The percentage of Christians among participants are: Belgium–45..4,Ethiopia–97..1,Italy–77..8 ,Lebanon–34 .0 ,Philippines–89 .3 and United Kingdom –34.1.

The percentage of Muslims among participants are: Belgium –6 ..0 - Ethiopia –11 ..2 - Italy –16 ..0 - Lebanon–61 .3.

For other religion/belief systems percentages: Belgium has no available information; Ethiopia’s population following other religions or belief systems matches everyone else's; Italy’s population following other religions or belief systems aligns with studies across Europe.Lebanon has a similar percentage of the population practicing different religions or belief systems as other countries in Western Asia.

In the Philippines, the majority of the population is Christian, but there are also followers of Islam and Indigenous beliefs. Bilingual individuals who were not familiar with the research topic and hypotheses conducted independent back-translations. Ambiguities and incompatibilities were resolved through interlingual renditions. This article only describes the relevant steps. Initially, participants were asked to generate 10 responses to the question "Who are you?" These responses, referred to as identity facets, were collected using a modified version of Kuhn & McPartland's Twenty Statements Test (TST), as explained by Becker et al.(2012). To minimize any influence from theoretical expectations or demand characteristics, this section was placed at the beginning. The 10 facets generated by participants at time 1 were presented again at time 2 for re-evaluation after a time delay. Vignoles et al.'s work in 2006 influenced how participants categorized their identity facets. Participants were instructed to choose the category that best represented their individuality aspect by circling a letter (options: I, R, SM, LG). To provide more nuanced choices, four categories were used instead of just dichotomous options. The perceived importance of each aspect in defining their identity was measured on a scale ranging from 0 = not important at all to 10 = highly important.The question was answered twice (time 1 and time 2), with the data collected focusing on coding various aspects of individuals' identities, specifically their spiritual or religious beliefs. Participants from all countries mentioned at least one aspect related to their spiritual identity. Further analysis primarily concentrated on these aspects. The questionnaire provided different categories for participants to choose from, including individual characteristics, relationships, small group membership, and large group membership.

The percentage distribution of selected categories varied across different countries. Figure 1 shows a graph illustrating the percentages at which European and non-European participants categorized their spiritual individuality facets.

There were differences in how Europeans and non-Europeans classified their spiritual individuality facets. Europeans mostly identified them as 'group belonging,' while non-Europeans mainly labeled them as 'individual feature.' A small minority in both groups chose 'relationship with person' and 'small group.' Significant differences between countries were confirmed by a Chi-square test with a Cramer's V value of .263.

We also examined the connection between these classification differences and general culture.The analysis conducted found that Western respondents tend to view spiritual aspects as "group properties" within their own individuality facets. Another Chi-square test performed on the European sample supported this finding, showing a significant difference in the classification of spiritual and non-spiritual aspects. The Cramer's V value for this test was .320. However, no significant differences were found among non-Western samples regarding the classification of spiritual and non-spiritual facets. The p-value for this Chi-square test was .881. Overall, this study highlights the importance of spiritual identity across various levels of classification. Its objective was to explore different forms of spiritual identity in different countries and examine its significance as an individual feature, relation with others, or group affiliation.
No significant differences were discovered in the centrality of spiritual identity facets when comparing means across the four groups using ANOVA analysis. This suggests that individuals value all levels of classification equally if they endorse them. Additionally, there was a notable variation in centrality between countries, but no significant interaction between category and country was observed. This indicates that cultural factors did

not influence perceived differences in centrality between categories.
The survey followed an ecological approach where participants freely identified aspects of their individualities related to spirituality.In countries with higher levels of religiosity, there is a tendency for more participants to include a spiritual identity aspect within their individuality. Interestingly, there are notable differences between Western and non-Western participants in how they perceive their spiritual identity. Western participants tend to view it as a sense of group belonging, while non-Western participants see it as a personal attribute. This pattern does not align with the traditional distinction between individualism and collectivism. It also cannot be explained solely by overall cultural factors when compared to other non-religious aspects of the same participants. Instead, it likely reflects something specific to spiritual traditions and practices. These findings support previous research conducted by Cohen et al. (2005), which found that the significance of social versus individual aspects of spiritual identity varies based on religious denomination and the specific experience of religiosity within a particular national context. In Western states, individuals often engage in religiosity through association with a specific group due to less widespread faith. However, in countries where faith is more prevalent, individuals can have a personal spiritual experience without needing to join a particular group.
The study's second objective was to compare levels of centrality in spiritual identity across different categorization levels. Previous literature suggests that a more personal level of categorization would correspond with a perceived importance of spiritual identity. However, based on previous studies, it was hypothesized that individuals at the individual, relational, and societal levels would perceive equal importance in their spiritual identity.

The findings suggest that there is no

need to differentiate between a "first category" and a "second category" of spiritual individuality as both are important for individuals. Supporting this hypothesis, there were no significant differences in the average rates of identity centrality at the four levels of categorization. This discovery challenges the differentiation between extrinsic religiosity, which is peripheral and group-based, and intrinsic religiosity, which is central and individual-focused. Both individual and group-level spiritual identities possess the characteristic of centrality typically associated with exclusive intrinsic orientation.

The text concurs with Flere and Lavric (2007) in asserting that a reliable examination of spirituality should encompass not only personal aspects but also societal and relational aspects of individual spiritual identity. However, it acknowledges a limitation in the study due to the theoretical conflict between individual and societal selves.The text argues that an individual can possess both a prominent personal spiritual self and a significant societal spiritual self. Recent studies have combined the personal and social aspects of spiritual identity, showing promising outcomes (see Brambilla, Manzi & Regalia 2011; Verkuyten & Yildiz 2010). Examining how the minority or majority status of spiritual groups influences an individual's perception of their spiritual identity is crucial. Our sample revealed that Western participants often perceive their spiritual identity as a "group level identity," leading to intriguing new inquiries. While there has been some exploration into the impact of various denominations and the spiritual history in different countries, there is less understanding about how belonging to a particular group varies between secularized and more spiritually oriented nations. Additionally, the connection between an individual's spiritual identity and their involvement with a religious tradition, including their group or community and its practices (such

as attending services, personal prayer, volunteering for an association), is another important factor. Moreover, interactions and exchanges of ideas among family members also play a role in passing down religion within households.

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