Problems in Measuring Diachronic Religious Behavior, or Using Indicators to ‘Make a Virtue of Necessity’: the Case of the Netherlands (1975–2005)
- 18 Downloads
The aim of this study is to show the different advantages and drawbacks of the main quantitative indicators used in research on diachronic religious behavior. We will demonstrate that religious affiliation has to be used in long-term studies; although it is extremely imprecise, it is often available over long periods of time. Instead, the best solution for medium-term studies is to use frequency of attendance at religious services. This indicator is more accurate than religious affiliation, but is only widely available from the 1960s–1970s onwards. Finally, the most suitable indicator for short-term analysis is obtained from diary-based time-use studies. It is the most precise of the three indicators, but the source is less readily available as these surveys have only been conducted in most countries in the last 30 years. This study is based on data from Time Use Surveys conducted in the Netherlands every 5 years from 1975 to 2005.
KeywordsMeasured presence Calculated presence Religious affiliation Frequency of attendance Measurement problems Religion
The author would like to thank the three reviewers for their helpful comments, which made an important contribution to clarifying the issues discussed. I am also grateful to Marion Wittenberg for some personal recommendations about the use of the Dutch data.
- Coleman, John A. 1978. The evolution of Dutch catholicism, 1958–1974. Berkeley: University of California.Google Scholar
- De Graaf, Nan Dirk, Ariana Need, and Wout Ultee Ultee. 2004. Leaving the church in the Netherlands: A comprehensive explanation of three empirical regularities. In Patterns and processes of religious change in modern industrial societies, ed. Alasdair Crockett and Richard O’Leary, 81–116. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press.Google Scholar
- Gershuny, Jonathan. 2003. Changing times: Work and leisure in postindustrial society. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Greeley, Andrew M. 2004. A religious revival in Europe. In Patterns and processes of religious change in modern industrial societies, edited by Alasdair Crockett and Richard O’Leary, 165–189.Google Scholar
- Juster, F. Thomas, and Frank P. Stafford. 1991. The allocation of time: empirical findings, behavioral models, and problems of measurement. Journal of Economic Literature 29(2): 471–522.Google Scholar
- Knippenberg, Hans. 2010. Secularisation and the rise of immigrant religions: The case of the Netherlands. Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Geographica 44(1–2): 63–82.Google Scholar
- Knippenberg, Hans. 2015. Secularization and transformation of religion in post-war Europe. In The changing world religion map, vol. IV, ed. Stanley D. Brunn, 2101–2127. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
- Mandemakers, Jornt J., and Anne Roeters. 2014. Fast or slow food? Explaining trends in food-related time in the Netherlands, 1975–2005. Acta Sociologica: 1–17.Google Scholar
- McAndrew, Siobhan, and David Voas. 2011. Measuring religiosity using surveys. Survey Question Bank Topic Overview 4(February): 1–15.Google Scholar
- Need, Ariana, and Nan Dirk De Graaf. 2005. Zich bekeren en wisselen van kerkgenootschap in Nederland. Mens en Maatschappij 80(4): 288–304.Google Scholar
- Scherpenzeel, Annette. 2009. Start of the liss panel: Sample and recruitment of a probability-based internet panel. Tilburg: CentERdata.Google Scholar