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Does Masculinity Thwart Being Religious? An Examination of Older Men’sReligiousness

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Previous work shows a significant relationship between gender orientation and being religious in samples of college–age and adult men. Before entering later life, men with a feminine orientation have greater religious involvement than other men. In a sample of older men from three Massachusetts counties, this study assessed the bearing of men’sgender orientation and gender ideology on their religious involvement. Gender orientation more than masculinity ideology was found to be a reliable predictor of older men’sreligiousness. Similar to studies of younger men, a feminine orientation was a significant determinant of the older men’s religious participation, commitment, and intrinsic orientation. Older men who define self in very masculine terms, however, engaged in a quest religiosity. When the masculinity ideology contains norms that prescribe the virtues of a traditional masculinity and acquiring status, men’s religious orientation was extrinsic (or means) oriented. These important findings are discussed in terms of how masculinity is at times a barrier to men’s private devotion and at other times can be a trigger to questing.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Holy Cross College 2: Yale University

Publication date: September 1, 2002


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