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Disaggregating Conservative Protestant Groups in Northern Ireland: Overlapping Categories and the Importance of a Born-Again Self-Identification

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Rather than treating conservative Protestantism as a homogenous phenomenon, recent literature has underlined the importance of disaggregating this group to illuminate important attitudinal and behavioral differences between conservative Protestants. However, the methods used to empirically operationalize conservative Protestantism have not always been able to capture variations within the groupings. Based on analysis of the 2004 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, we argue that religious self-identification is a more useful way of analyzing conservative Protestant subgroups than denomination or religious belief. We show that many of these identifications are overlapping, rather than stand-alone, religious group identifications. Moreover, the identification category of born-again has seldom been included in surveys. We find having a born-again identification to be a better predictor than the more frequently asked fundamentalist and evangelical categories of the religious and social beliefs that are seen as indicative of conservative Protestantism.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Claire Mitchell is Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen's University, Belfast, UK., Email: 2: James Tilley is a Lecturer in Quantitative Social Science at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, UK, and a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, UK., Email:

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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