Self-assigned religious affiliation: a study among adolescents in England and Wales

Leslie J. Francis

in Religion, spirituality and the social sciences

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420411
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303190 | DOI:
Self-assigned religious affiliation: a study among adolescents in England and Wales

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Religious affiliation is the most readily available and least understood indicator of religiosity in the social scientific literature. Religious affiliation is readily available as it is regarded as an aspect of personal and social identity. It is regarded as belonging to the public and social domain in contrast to religious beliefs and religious practices, which are generally believed to belong to the private and personal domain, safe from public scrutiny. Religious affiliation is not fully understood because both conceptually and empirically, it functions differently from the ways in which other indicators of religiosity function. As a result, religious affiliation acts as a poor predictor of other religious indicators. This chapter discusses the notion of the ‘slipperiness’ of definitions of religion and spirituality. It aims to build on the initial findings presented by Francis, delineating a fuller profile of the adolescent world-view and distinguishing between major faith groups and between individual Christian denominations. It concludes that the marginalisation of self-assigned religious affiliation as an indicator of religious behaviour and belief was a detriment to the literature because without it, the nuances of lived belief and faith are unable to be fully captured by quantitative data.

Keywords: religiosity; social scientific literature; social identity; personal identity; religiosity function; spirituality; religious affiliation

Chapter.  5335 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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