Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jews are "religiocentric" but diverse

I see that the question of Jewish ethnocentrism has been raised again in HBD World, so I thought I would look at it from another angle with the MIDUS Study. Participants were asked: "How important do you think it is for people of your religion to marry people who are the same religion?" Answers ranged from "very" (4) to "not at all" (1). Here are the means by affiliation:


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jews are between members of sects and denominations in the importance they place on marrying within the faith. The differences on the table are striking. For example, the gap between the means for Jews and Unitarians is 1.4 standard deviations--a huge difference.
 
I include the standard deviations as a measure of agreement within each group. Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) and Unitarians have two of the lowest numbers: this indicates that JWs have a comparatively high level of agreement that they should marry other JWs, while Unitarians agree that endogamy is unimportant. You can see that the SD for Jews is high, which indicates a broad diversity of opinion on the question. So Jews are comparatively "religiocentric" but not monolithic.

2 comments:

Bill said...

Is the sample big enough that you can meaningfully separate people based on whether they attend services at least weekly or not? To see if people who are only "culturally" members of these groups are different?

ironrailsironweights said...

Is the sample big enough that you can meaningfully separate people based on whether they attend services at least weekly or not? To see if people who are only "culturally" members of these groups are different?

Your point is especially significant with respect to Jews, as Judaism is a cultural/ethnic label as well as a religious one. Many people self-identify as Jewish despite having little or no religious faith. In contrast, few if any people are going to identify as, say, Baptist if they don't follow the religion at all and never attend church services.

Going back to Jews, I also would imagine that denomination has a major effect on religiocentricism among those who practice their religion: the Orthodox and Hasidic place great stress on marriage within the religion, while the Conservative and especially Reform are less dogmatic on the issue.

Peter