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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
Unformatted Document Text:  Religion, Communication, and Social Capital --1-- Religion, Communication, and Social Capital Abstract In this study we examine the political communication processes--including discussion networks and public affairs media use--that link the associational and cognitive dimensions of religion with various indicators of social capital, including political efficacy, political trust, and social trust. We also examine differences in the linkages to indicators of social capital between white evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants. Using survey data from the 2000 National Election Study, our results show that current claims regarding religion’s ability to sponsor social capital are severely oversold. The associational effects of religion are limited, especially in comparison to the positive effects of political interactions that occur in non-church based settings. Moreover, our findings indicate that the cognitive dimension of religion fosters a retreat from certain types of communication behaviors, contributing to several negative effects on political efficacy, political trust, and social trust. Our study also confirms fears that the growing evangelical church movement may be doing damage to social capital, as evangelical Protestants are less knowledgeable of politics, less politically efficacious, and less trusting of others, after all controls.

Authors: Nisbet, Matthew., Moy, Patricia. and Scheufele, Dietram.
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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
--1--
Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
Abstract
In this study we examine the political communication processes--including discussion
networks and public affairs media use--that link the associational and cognitive dimensions of
religion with various indicators of social capital, including political efficacy, political trust, and
social trust. We also examine differences in the linkages to indicators of social capital between
white evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants. Using survey data from the 2000
National Election Study, our results show that current claims regarding religion’s ability to
sponsor social capital are severely oversold. The associational effects of religion are limited,
especially in comparison to the positive effects of political interactions that occur in non-church
based settings. Moreover, our findings indicate that the cognitive dimension of religion fosters a
retreat from certain types of communication behaviors, contributing to several negative effects
on political efficacy, political trust, and social trust. Our study also confirms fears that the
growing evangelical church movement may be doing damage to social capital, as evangelical
Protestants are less knowledgeable of politics, less politically efficacious, and less trusting of
others, after all controls.


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