Religious pluralism and religious participation: a median-based approach to the non-substantive problem
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Sociologists of religion have long been interested in the interaction between religious pluralism and religious vitality. Previous empirical studies approach this theme by drawing on data of denominational participation rates across geographical units, investigating the property of association between the quantity of one minus the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index (religious pluralism), and the total religious participation rate (religious vitality). However, this association could be theoretically spurious. Taking advantage of the median’s statistical property of being less sensitive to the variations of extreme values, this study proposes to apply the median instead of the arithmetic summation of religious participation rates to measure geographical-unit-level religious vitality. This method is illustrated by analyzing the New York State census of religion 1865 and the U.S. county survey 1990.
KeywordsReligious pluralism Religious prevalence Non-substantive connection Religious economies theory Median-based test
This study was partly supported by the School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University.
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