Journal Article

Assessing the Validity of Key Informant Reports about Congregations’ Social Composition*

Steven M. Frenk, Shawna L. Anderson, Mark Chaves and Nancy Martin

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 72, issue 1, pages 78-90
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srq064
Assessing the Validity of Key Informant Reports about Congregations’ Social Composition*

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Key informant interviewing is an important methodological tool for gathering information about congregations, but little research has examined the accuracy of the information key informants provide. We assess the validity of key informant reports about congregations’ social composition from the 1998 and 2006–2007 National Congregations Study using data from the 1998 and 2006 General Social Survey. We find that, in the aggregate, key informants are reasonably accurate on most measures, but they are less accurate when reporting congregants’ education, age, and household composition. Our findings regarding congregations’ social composition are consistent with other research showing that key informants provide the most valid assessments when they are asked about directly observable organizational characteristics.

Keywords: congregations; key informant; organizations; quantitative methods; survey research

Journal Article.  4375 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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