Journal Article

Religious Stratification: Its Origins, Persistence, and Consequences*

James D. Davidson

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 69, issue 4, pages 371-395
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/69.4.371
Religious Stratification: Its Origins, Persistence, and Consequences*

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Sociologists have shown that religious groups can be ranked in terms of their access to power, privilege, and prestige. However, the interpretation of this ranking is in dispute. I raise three questions. (1) Under what conditions does religious stratification arise? (2) How does it persist and change over time? (3) How does it affect society? I approach these questions in much the same way sociologists have studied the origins, persistence, and consequences of stratification based on race, class, and gender. Framing the issues in terms of conflict theory, I summarize what colleagues and I are learning about the development of religious stratification in America's colonial period, how it has persisted and changed since then, and its destabilizing impact on our society. I also discuss the implications our analyses have for future research, including research at the meso- and micro-levels. Given the theme of the 2007 annual meeting, I conclude with a few thoughts about the implications my analysis has for building a better society.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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