In search of a new approach to strictness theory: social identity and the growth of Jewish denominations in the United States

Source document: Religio. 2017, vol. 25, iss. 1, pp. [25]-42
Extent
[25]-42
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type
Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Abstract(s)
In the 1970s, a theory called the "strictness theory" was formed in the US, according to which mainly conservative denominations gain in importance. This position was in contradiction to secularisation theory, which assumed that the popularity of liberal churches should increase. An important role in the success of conservative denominations was to be played by restrictive regulations that set their members apart from the social environment and concentrated their believers' attention on matters concerning the religious community. In the 1990s, researchers representing the economic paradigm referred to the strictness theory again. In their opinion, restrictive regulations reduce the problem of "free riders". In this way, they increase not only the religious commitment of believers, but also their willingness to appropriate their assets for the religious community. As a result, conservative denominations having resources at their disposal are able to compete successfully with liberal churches. These restrictive regulations are the subject matter of this text. It is assumed, however, that their primary goal is to shape clear borders between members of a given religious community and its reference groups. In this sense, strict norms derive from the social categorisation process going on within the community, which contributes to the formation of social identity. The considerations are based on data concerning the American Jewish community collected by a Pew Research survey in 2013. The main question asked during the analysis of these data was what has a bigger influence on the fact that members of the Jewish community are more willing to give their resources to Jewish organisations: their strong identification with Jewishness or their affiliation with a restrictive denomination?
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