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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Lisa A. Keister
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
Darren E. Sherkat
Affiliation:
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
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Summary

Religion is one of the strongest and most persistent correlates of social and economic inequalities. Early theorists recognized the importance of the religion–inequality link and introduced important theoretical ideas that continue to guide research in this area (Durkheim [1912] 1954; Sombart 1911; Weber [1905] 1930). Yet, because the religious environment and the processes that underlie inequality in the United States have changed dramatically since Weber and his contemporaries developed their ideas, many current patterns are beyond the scope of these early works. For example, early theorists could not have anticipated the proliferation of Protestant denominations, the changing nature of global Catholicism, the increased presence of other religious traditions, or the growing importance of new immigrant groups with unique religious practices and identities. It has also become evident that the relationship between religion and inequality is no longer a function of large-scale shifts in control over the means of production, but rather reflects changing individual and group approaches to human capital acquisition, family formation and fertility, work and occupational advancement, entrepreneurship, saving, and investing. In the 1960s, researchers revived questions about religion and inequality and began to address the issues that matter for understanding contemporary stratification patterns. Unfortunately, that research lost momentum when debates about socioeconomic status (SES) convergence between mainline Protestants (MPs) and Catholics came to dominate the literature and data and methods were inadequate to adjudicate among competing arguments (Glenn and Hyland 1967; Lenski 1961; Roof and McKinney 1987).

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Religion and Inequality in America
Research and Theory on Religion's Role in Stratification
, pp. 1 - 28
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Lisa A. Keister, Duke University, North Carolina, Darren E. Sherkat, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • Book: Religion and Inequality in America
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139226479.002
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Lisa A. Keister, Duke University, North Carolina, Darren E. Sherkat, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • Book: Religion and Inequality in America
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139226479.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Lisa A. Keister, Duke University, North Carolina, Darren E. Sherkat, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • Book: Religion and Inequality in America
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139226479.002
Available formats
×