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Date of Award

5-1992

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Supervisor

C.H. Levitt

Abstract

This thesis endeavours to assess the significance of religion to the shaping of political attitudes and behaviour in contemporary Canadian society. Positing a value-additive theoretical model, based on an extension of the reference group concept to preference and deference dimensions, the study links religious identity anchorage to comparative, normative and perspectival reference functions. Utilizing the 1984 Canadian National Election Study data, empirical propositions derived from the value-additive model are tested. The findings indicate that, generally, religion as operationalized by nominal religious preference is a stronger predictor of political values than religious reference group attendance and self-perceived religious identity. Moreover, a value-additive model incorporating a number of the religious dimensions, has limited applicability to the explanation of religion's role in the development of political attitudes and behavioural configurations. However, the findings suggest that nominal religious affiliation tends to function as an organizing perspective, through which the political world is viewed. The persistence of religious affiliation after controls for attendance and self-perceived religiosity, tends to indicate that the perspectival function of affiliation is as much an issue of socio-religious heritage, as it is of present religious engagement. The Weberian assumption of religious preference types that breed distinct orientations to the social world is confirmed in this research. Additionally, the variation on political life matters for religious affiliate types is considered by the group's position of dominance or nondominance in the Canadian social system. Also, a theory of the Religious None as reflective of noninstitutionalized identity is developed, in accord with the findings.

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