THEORIES & On Theorizing About Religion #ARDA #PennStateUniv

On theorizing about religion:

by ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, Penn. State University.

Social scientists observe that the world of religion consists of regularities and anomalies, seeking explanations for both. A theorist suggests a set of ideas to explain one aspect of religious behavior, hopefully in terms of a few clear statements using words that can be defined unambiguously. Ideally, it will be possible to derive logical consequences of the ideas that can be stated as formal hypotheses. The concepts in a hypothesis must be operationalized in terms of specific measures for which data can be collected in an empirical study. Consider this example of a theoretical argument:

1. Religion compensates people psychologically for deprivations they suffer in life.
2. Some people are relatively deprived in terms of wealth and status.
3. Relatively deprived people will gravitate to religious groups that compensate them for their deprivations.
4. The religions of relatively deprived people need to provide more compensation than do the religions of people who are not relatively deprived.
5. The religions of relatively deprived people must provide compensatory social status.
6. Therefore, the religions to which relatively deprived people belong will tend to:

a. Be more emotionally intense than other religious groups.
b. Assert that special honor comes from the mere act of belonging to the particular religious group.
c. Have social relations that are somewhat encapsulated from the wider society.

Of course this argument could be stated in much greater detail. But, given that it is familiar in the social science of religion, consider what is needed to test it. Key terms must be defined operationally, for example so that questionnaire items can be written or selected to represent them in an empirical study:

1. Relative deprivation could be operationally defined as individuals below medium income, or individuals who respond to attitude questions as being relatively powerless or lacking respect in society.
2. Compensatory social status could be measured through questionnaire items about religious exclusivity such as feeling that only members of one’s own groups are saved, or describing their group with terms like “the chosen people,” or rejecting some status-related values of the wider society such as saying that the rich are corrupt.
3. Emotional intensity might be operationalized in terms of specific behaviors, such as expressions of joy during religious services, or subjectively in terms of whether a respondent rates their religious experiences as intense versus peaceful.
4. Social encapsulation can be measured by what proportion of a person’s five best friends belong to his or her own congregation.

THEORIES & How Theories, Concepts, & Measures Relate to Each Other #ARDA

Theories, Concepts & Measures

by ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives

Social scientists observe that the world of religion consists of regularities and anomalies, seeking explanations for both. A theorist suggests a set of ideas to explain one aspect of religious behavior, hopefully in terms of a few clear statements using words that can be defined unambiguously. Ideally, it will be possible to derive logical consequences of the ideas that can be stated as formal hypotheses. The concepts in a hypothesis must be operationalized in terms of specific measures for which data can be collected in an empirical study. This will be a collegial effort, enlisting the cooperation of researchers, universities, journal editors, institutes and associations of scholars to increase the impact and awareness of important findings in religion research.

A general introduction to the philosophy of this project is:

The site has four categories of articles:


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We hope this site will provide users with many resources in conducting research or writing scholarly articles, policy briefs, or general information for public consumption. Here are a few of the many uses:

1) Enhance your citations and knowledge of the literature: Our pages include citations which refer users to major works which utilize the theory, concept or measure in question.
2) Improve your measurement of concepts: Explore the variables researchers commonly utilize in measuring complex concepts.
3) Draw links between theoretical orientations: Explore how many concepts and measures are shared across theoretical orientations.
4) Move seamlessly from theory to research: This site allows users to trace theoretical hypotheses to specific quantitative indicators and back again. Along the way citations to key research help to further clarify this process.

Read more at … http://wiki.thearda.com/tcm/frontpage/about/

THEORIES & Religious Research Theories Listed & Defined by ARDA: Association of Religious Data Archives

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The ARDA is the best place to find a compilation of theories and research on the church compiled by scholars. It is compiled by my colleague Roger Finke and his colleagues Penn. State University.

Religious Research Theories

Learn about other theories of religion:
arrow.jpgChurch/Sect Cycle
arrow.jpgCivilization Theory
arrow.jpgCognitive Theories
arrow.jpgConversion Theory
arrow.jpgCyclical Theory
arrow.jpgDemographic Transition Theory
arrow.jpgFunctionalism
arrow.jpgModernization Theory
arrow.jpgRational Choice/Religious Economies
arrow.jpgSecularization
arrow.jpgSocial Network Theory
arrow.jpgSub-Cultural Identity Theory of Persistence and Strength

Theories bpc_icon_theory.jpg

In the social sciences generally, as well as in the social science of religion, the term theory is actually used in a multitude of applications. In a sense, every specific theory embodies a somewhat different idea of what theory means, so it is not surprising that this word tends to confuse people. For example, fully 93 articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy have “theory” in their titles, yet they approach it from almost as many different directions.

Citing the work of Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge, we offer the following general definition of a theory:

A theory is a set of statements, or hypotheses, about relationships among a set of abstract concepts. These statements say how and why the concepts are interrelated. Furthermore, these statements must give rise to implications that potentially are falsifiable empirically.

Citations:

a) Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, A Theory of Religion (New York: Toronto/Lang, 1987), p. 13.

Read more at … http://wiki.thearda.com/tcm/theories