Journal Article

Social Networks and Religion: The Role of Congregational Social Embeddedness in Religious Belief and Practice

Samuel Stroope

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 73, issue 3, pages 273-298
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srr052
Social Networks and Religion: The Role of Congregational Social Embeddedness in Religious Belief and Practice

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Previous literature argues that social networks influence religiosity, but surprisingly, no studies have used national data of a variety of religious traditions to assess the relationship between embeddedness in congregation-based friendship networks and different dimensions of religiosity. This study uses new national data (Baylor Religion Survey 2007) to estimate models of religious activity (church activities and devotional activities) and of religious belief (supernatural beliefs, biblical literalism, and religious exclusivity). Among U.S. Christians, congregational social embeddedness is a robust predictor of all religiosity outcomes and is among the largest effects in models. These effects are not substantially moderated by religious tradition, although Catholic affiliation attenuates the positive relationship between social embeddedness and church activities. These findings strongly suggest that social sanctions and solidarity rewards within congregational social networks play an important role in heightening religiosity. Religious research would be enhanced by devoting greater attention to the importance of congregational social embeddedness.

Keywords: social network; social embeddedness; social ties; social encapsulation; friends; social sanctions; congregational support; religion

Journal Article.  9579 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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