Date of Award

8-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Sherkat, Darren

Second Advisor

Grant, J. Tobin

Third Advisor

Reed, Jean Pierre

Abstract

A subset of research on gender in religion in the United States has demonstrated that the gender-ordered worldview of conservative Christians, where men are perceived as divinely ordained heads of households and women are responsible for keeping house and childrearing, translates to a lack of material attainment among conservative Christian women. Moreover, research shows that conservative Christian women have particularly high rates of religious service attendance and literalist interpretations of the Bible. In this dissertation, I analyze whether the influence of conservative Christianity extends beyond its own adherents through religious context effects. I use geocoded General Social Survey to locate respondents within community contexts, and contextual demographic percentages of sectarian Protestants and fundamentalist Christians to measure religious contexts. While I find little evidence that conservative Christian population share affects respondents’ gender ideology, I show that women have lower odds of obtaining a college degree when living around larger conservative Christian populations. Moreover, women’s odds of frequently attending religious services and interpreting the Bible literally increase in line with increased conservative Christian market share. I argue that these results indicate that the relationship between gender and religion in the United States plays out at a structural level, in addition to the individual level processes identified in previous research. I conclude by discussing my findings in conjunction with previous research and suggesting avenues for future research on gender in religion in the United States.

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