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Gender Role Attitudes and Religiosity Across Generations and Decades: A Research Report on an Ongoing Project
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Cultural attitudes in the United States are changing. Less than half a century ago, most Americans held conservative views on premarital sex, gay rights, and gender roles. Today, premarital sex is widely accepted (Harding and Jencks 2003), gay lifestyles are increasingly embraced (Brewer and Wilcox 2005), and support for women’s rights is widespread (Brewster and Padavic 2000; Brooks and Bolzendahl 2004). The project that we discuss in this paper is part of a broader effort to investigate cultural change in the United States. This effort was begun last year by two of the present authors as we sought to investigate the changing “mood” of the country at the aggregate level on issues of public morality such as gay rights, abortion rights, women’s rights, and the like (Mulligan and Grant 2007). Drawing from Stimson’s (1999) notion of policy mood, we found that in recent decades the cultural policy mood (CPM) of the U.S. has moved increasingly and nearly monotonically in a liberal direction. We found, moreover, that aggregate-level CPM is inversely associated with aggregate-level religiousness in the U.S., or macro religiosity, which itself has been on the decline for several decades (see Grant 2008). The present study is a first step toward extending this analysis of CPM and religiosity from the aggregate level to families and individuals. Specifically, we look at attitudes toward the role of women in American society and religiosity among four generations of families who took part in four waves of the Longitudinal Study of Generations, a panel study conducted between 1971 and 1997. We investigate over this period the effects of gender role attitudes on religiosity, the effects of religiosity on gender role attitudes, and whether changing attitudes toward gender roles and religiosity at the individual level are influenced by generational effects, period effects, or both. For this paper we had hoped to disentangle the

Authors: Mulligan, Ken., Grant, Tobin. and Bryan, Jessica.
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1
Cultural attitudes in the United States are changing. Less than half a century ago,
most Americans held conservative views on premarital sex, gay rights, and gender roles.
Today, premarital sex is widely accepted (Harding and Jencks 2003), gay lifestyles are
increasingly embraced (Brewer and Wilcox 2005), and support for women’s rights is
widespread (Brewster and Padavic 2000; Brooks and Bolzendahl 2004). The project that we
discuss in this paper is part of a broader effort to investigate cultural change in the United
States. This effort was begun last year by two of the present authors as we sought to
investigate the changing “mood” of the country at the aggregate level on issues of public
morality such as gay rights, abortion rights, women’s rights, and the like (Mulligan and Grant
2007). Drawing from Stimson’s (1999) notion of policy mood, we found that in recent
decades the cultural policy mood (CPM) of the U.S. has moved increasingly and nearly
monotonically in a liberal direction. We found, moreover, that aggregate-level CPM is
inversely associated with aggregate-level religiousness in the U.S., or macro religiosity, which
itself has been on the decline for several decades (see Grant 2008).
The present study is a first step toward extending this analysis of CPM and religiosity
from the aggregate level to families and individuals. Specifically, we look at attitudes toward
the role of women in American society and religiosity among four generations of families
who took part in four waves of the Longitudinal Study of Generations, a panel study
conducted between 1971 and 1997. We investigate over this period the effects of gender role
attitudes on religiosity, the effects of religiosity on gender role attitudes, and whether
changing attitudes toward gender roles and religiosity at the individual level are influenced by
generational effects, period effects, or both. For this paper we had hoped to disentangle the


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