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A Power-Control Theory of Gender and Religiosity

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The fact that women are more religious than men is one of the most consistent findings in the sociology of religion. Miller and Stark (2002) propose that a gender difference in risk preference of physiological origin might explain this phenomenon. While acknowledging the utility of their risk-preference mechanism, we believe that their assumption regarding the genesis of this difference is a premature concession to biology. Returning to Miller's original paper on gender, risk, and religiosity, we draw on power-control theory (PCT), developed in the work of John Hagan and colleagues, to introduce a plausible socialization account for these differences. We evaluate these claims using data from the General Social Survey. Women raised by high-socioeconomic status (SES) mothers are less religious than women raised by low-education mothers, but mother's SES has little effect on men's chances of being irreligious and father's SES has a negligible effect on the gender difference in religiosity.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology University of Notre Dame

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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