Between secularization and migration: religiosity of minority youth in Western Europe

Jacob, Konstanze

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-556116
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2020
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Kogan, Irena
Date of oral examination: 3 July 2020
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Allgemeine Soziologie (Kalter 2009-)
Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences- CDSS (Social Sciences)
Subject: 300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
Individual keywords (German): Migration , Religion , Europa
Keywords (English): Migration , Religion , Europe
Abstract: Alongside growing ethnic diversity in North-Western European countries during the last decades as a result of various immigration waves, the religious landscape in many immigration societies underwent a multitude of changes, too. These immigration processes coincide with secularization tendencies in Western Europe: personal religious beliefs and practices in daily life are on a lower level than they used to be in traditional societies in the past, such that North-Western European immigration societies can be considered highly secularized. In my dissertation, I explore how secularized societies in North-Western Europe influence immigrants and their descendants who are residing in these countries. More precisely, two core questions constitute the framework of my dissertation: (1) How religious are majority and minority youths with different religious backgrounds, and how does religious attachment change over time and over generations? (2) To what extent can alternative theoretical approaches be used to study religious developments in North-Western European immigrant societies and are able to explain ethnic and/or religious group differences in levels and changes of religious involvement? Chapter 2 offers a descriptive view on majority and minority youths’ religiosity. Central findings indicate that immigrant youth are more often affiliated with any religious denomination, and they pray and attend religious services more often compared to natives. Furthermore, religious salience is higher among minority youths and especially among the second generation, which is largely due to the divergent composition in terms of religious affiliation. Comparing adolescents’ religious salience with that of their parents, intergenerational decline is visible for majority youth, whereas stability is most common in Muslim families. Chapter 3 searches for explanations for divergent intergenerational transmission patterns in religiosity. Theories in the sociology of religion and of migration reach different conclusions with respect to general trends in immigrants’ religious attachment as well as the influence of important explanatory factors, such as cognitive-structural and social integration. The empirical results confirm that neither existing theory is able to fully account for patterns of majority’s and minority’s intergenerational transmission in religiosity. In the remaining chapters I extend existing theoretical perspectives by adopting arguments from adjacent study fields in order to theoretically and empirically explain divergent trends in religiosity as well as group differences therein. In Chapter 4 I develop a theoretical model of intergenerational transmission in religiosity following central ideas from psychological and social psychological approaches of socialization processes, value transmission and social learning. In this model, opportunities to pass on religion from one generation to the next and perceived transmission benefits of parents and children are of crucial importance. Testing this theory empirically, my findings suggest that family characteristics and everyday interactions influence intergenerational transmission in religiosity, but they can only partly explain Muslims’ strong resistance to secularization. Chapter 5 extends life-course research to the situation of immigrant children. I examine and empirically test whether crucial transitions (leaving school, moving out) and characteristics of peers and parents have an influence on immigrants’ and natives’ tendency to change their religious salience and behavior between adolescence and early adulthood (age 14-22). The main findings suggest that Muslim and Christian immigrants’ religious salience decreases at a later age in comparison to Christian natives. In contrast, religious behavior remains stable or increases for Muslim adolescents, whereas Christian adolescents become less religious in terms of church visits and praying frequency.
Translation of the title: Zwischen Säkularisierung und Migration: die Religiosität von Jugendlichen mit Migrationshintergrund in Westeuropa (German)

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