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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
Unformatted Document Text:  Religion, Communication, and Social Capital --7-- can lose its central institutional value in society, with its social integration function alternatively fulfilled by other institutions. Various sources of evidence do point to a disintegrative role for religion. For example, research in psychology demonstrates possible negative linkages between church membership and social capital. Studies have consistently found church attendance to be negatively related to tolerance (Allport, 1966; Allport and Ross, 1967). To the extent that tolerance is positively associated with generalized social trust (Sullivan, Pierson, and Marcus, 1982), this research indicates that church membership may have adverse effects on this social capital indicator. Uslaner (2000) and Greenburg (2000) suggest similarly that certain types of church membership might foster in-group trust at the expense of generalized trust. In a direct examination of religion’s influence on the diversity of political discussions and public affairs media use, Authors (2001;2002) showed that church-based political discussion networks were negatively related to political discussions that take place outside of church. Authors (2002;2001) suggest that this finding is somewhat worrisome, given the dominant role discussion networks outside of church played in contributing to overall community integration. People with well-developed secular networks were more likely to expose themselves to hard news on television and to newspapers, they knew more about politics, they felt more efficacious, and they were more likely to participate in politics. In all, the direct and indirect influence of religion’s associational dimension on social capital is still largely unexplored in the literature. However, some things are clear. By nature, churches as institutions are hierarchical in structure, and feature congregations of like-minded individuals sharing relatively similar worldviews. Some evidence and theorizing also suggest that churches forge strong in-group bonds at the expense of more general community

Authors: Nisbet, Matthew., Moy, Patricia. and Scheufele, Dietram.
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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
--7--
can lose its central institutional value in society, with its social integration function alternatively
fulfilled by other institutions.
Various sources of evidence do point to a disintegrative role for religion. For example,
research in psychology demonstrates possible negative linkages between church membership and
social capital. Studies have consistently found church attendance to be negatively related to
tolerance (Allport, 1966; Allport and Ross, 1967). To the extent that tolerance is positively
associated with generalized social trust (Sullivan, Pierson, and Marcus, 1982), this research
indicates that church membership may have adverse effects on this social capital indicator.
Uslaner (2000) and Greenburg (2000) suggest similarly that certain types of church membership
might foster in-group trust at the expense of generalized trust.
In a direct examination of religion’s influence on the diversity of political discussions and
public affairs media use, Authors (2001;2002) showed that church-based political discussion
networks were negatively related to political discussions that take place outside of church.
Authors (2002;2001) suggest that this finding is somewhat worrisome, given the dominant role
discussion networks outside of church played in contributing to overall community integration.
People with well-developed secular networks were more likely to expose themselves to hard
news on television and to newspapers, they knew more about politics, they felt more efficacious,
and they were more likely to participate in politics.
In all, the direct and indirect influence of religion’s associational dimension on social
capital is still largely unexplored in the literature. However, some things are clear. By nature,
churches as institutions are hierarchical in structure, and feature congregations of like-minded
individuals sharing relatively similar worldviews. Some evidence and theorizing also suggest
that churches forge strong in-group bonds at the expense of more general community


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