Linked Religious Lives Across Generational Time in Family Lineages: Grandparents as Agents of Transmission

  • Merril SilversteinEmail author
  • Vern L. Bengtson
Part of the Frontiers in Sociology and Social Research book series (FSSR, volume 2)


Religiosity is a trait deeply embedded within families and transmitted across generations through formal training, informal instruction, and behavioral modeling. This chapter examines the extent to which religiosity is stable across generations, specifically in order to understand how grandparents influence the religious orientations of their adolescent and young adult grandchildren. Drawing on the Longitudinal Study of Generations, a four-decade study of multi-generational families, the authors analyzed lineages consisting of grandchildren participating in 2000 (Mage = 23, N = 554), parents participating in 1988 (Mage = 38, N = 341) and grandparents participating in 1971 (Mage = 45; N = 257). Estimating a three-level hierarchical linear model, results indicate that grandparents and parents independently transmitted their religious orientations to grandchildren. However, parental divorce tempered the strength of transmission from grandparents. The authors conclude that religion still forms a common thread that stretches across multiple generations in the family, although divorce serves as a significant mitigating factor.


Religion Generations Grandparents Grandchildren Divorce Family Life course Parent Linked lives 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologySyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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