Religious transformations: lessons from American adolescents Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Lee, Youn Ok
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • This dissertation explores religious change among American adolescents with a focus on multiple aspects of religious identity and social contexts. In the three articles I examine change in adolescents' attitudes about the importance of religious identity, compare change in religious identification with change in other dimensions of religiosity, and assess potential consequences of these dramatic changes in religiosity in terms of youth outcomes (substance use initiation). Throughout the papers I explore how youth change over time as they transition from adolescence into young adulthood to gain a better understanding of the various patterns of religious development. Analyses using three waves of data from the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) show that adolescents are largely stable when it comes to attitudes about religion and measures of religiosity but that there are patterns among the minority of youth who experience religious change. The results show that a majority of youth in the U.S. have attitudes that are favorable to religious diversity and that over time, change in these attitudes tend to favor this diversity. While religiosity is commonly measured as being one-dimensional, comparing changes in a variety of religiosity measures suggests that there are meaningful differences from one to another. The results also suggest that there are different processes that influence these changes. When assessing the associations between these types of religious change and substance use initiation, the results further suggest that there are meaningful differences in changes from one measure of religiosity to another that are associated with youth outcomes. Together these findings suggest that the religious lives of youth are best characterized by stability but among the minority who experience change, there are different processes involved across different types of religious change and that peer influence is associated with all of them. Untangling the variety of religious experiences and development patterns adolescents undergo as they age into adulthood could provide a more accurate and nuanced understanding of religiosity, particularly in its effects on youth outcomes.
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  • In Copyright
  • Pearce, Lisa D.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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