A Two-edged Sword: The Differential Effect of Religious Belief and Religious Social Context on Attitudes towards Democracy

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom, Gizem Arikan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Different components of the religious experience have differing effects on attitudes towards democracy. Using heteroskedastic maximum likelihood models and data from the fourth wave of the World Values Survey for 45 democratic countries, we show that as a personal belief system, religiosity contrasts with democratic principles, generating opposition to democracy while increasing ambivalence towards democratic principles among religious people. Nevertheless, at the group level, religion also serves as a social institution which increases the homogeneity of one's social network, leading to lower ambivalence, and makes for an active minority group which benefits from the democratic framework, consequently increasing support overall for a democratic regime. This double-edged sword effect explains the mixed results currently found in the literature on religiosity and democracy, and clearly illustrates the multidimensionality of religiosity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)249-276
Number of pages28
JournalPolitical Behavior
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Ambivalence
  • Democratic attitudes
  • Heteroskedastic maximum likelihood models
  • Religious behavior
  • Religious belief
  • World Values Survey

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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