Elite Religiosity in Britain / La Religiosité des élites en Grande-Bretagne. - article ; n°1 ; vol.67, pg 145-154
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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1989 - Volume 67 - Numéro 1 - Pages 145-154
10 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1989
Nombre de lectures 20
Langue Français


Roger Homan
Elite Religiosity in Britain / La Religiosité des élites en Grande-
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 67/1, 1989. pp. 145-154.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Homan Roger. Elite Religiosity in Britain / La Religiosité des élites en Grande-Bretagne. In: Archives des sciences sociales des
religions. N. 67/1, 1989. pp. 145-154.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1989.1374
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/assr_0335-5985_1989_num_67_1_1374Sc soc des Rei 1989 67/1 janvier-mars) 145-154 Arch
Cet article est une présentation une analyse comparative et une
critique des résultats un sondage sur la religiosité des élites cultu
relles et politiques en Grande-Bretagne effectué en 1986 par heb
domadaire britannique The Spectator auprès de 151 personnes
appartenant aux deux chambres du Parlement au monde des
affaires de université de industrie des professions juridiques
administration aux médias la médecine et aux arts
objectif de ce sondage consiste mieux connaître les croyances
personnelles et le niveau des connaissances religieuses ainsi que
attitude égard des rites de passage les tendances égard du
traditionalisme religieux les positions sur des questions concernant
glise et Etat et les dispositions égard du clergé
Les résultats de ce sondage permettent selon auteur apporter un
éclairage et des nuances intéressants sur hypothèse une corrélation
étroite entre religiosité et attitudes conservatrices
Over the last twenty years the empirical study of religiosity has been one of
the most active areas in the sociology of religion The seminal work of Charles
Glock and Rodney Stark helpfully operationalized the concept of religiosity in
terms of five now familiar dimensions In so doing they established an agenda of
research which has been widely taken up by teachers and students in universities
The study of the religious behaviour or beliefs or attitudes of particular
occupational or socioeconomic group is fairly mechanical activity easily
engaged by graduate students disappointing feature of the numerous articles
on aspects of religiosity which appear in the American journals is that their
writers often choose to conduct their investigations without leaving the campus
as consequence college students of various kinds have become the most
thoroughly researched and documented of communities of believer
At the same time sociological enquiries conducted at an official level for
census purposes or by poll organizations such as Gallup have tended to tabulate
religious behaviour against social class but the classes operated have been crude
and broad and there has been no discernment of sub-classes and corresponding
styles In general terms we know religious affiliation to be more characteristic of
the middle class in western societies than of the working class but we do not know
how religiosity vanes with levels of status within either In Britain at least
weekly attenders are more numerous among the managerial professional and
administrative classes 20 than all lower groups although belief in
particular doctrines is reported evenly across all groups Reid 1981 251-54 So
too in the age group 15 to 21 years some 17 of professional managerial and groups claim to attend church once weekly or more often while the
importance of belief is evenly rated across all groups Reid 1981 251 In this
respect the sociological study of religious behaviour is undeveloped compared
with the study of political which has been much occupied for example working class conservatism and the politics of elites
Fragments of research and public manifestations of the religious behaviour
of the establishment suggest certain expectations in some dimensions
The professional classes are traditionally conservative and their beliefs orthodox
albeit less orthodox among professionals in universities than elsewhere Vaughan
et al. 1966 That religious attendance and affiliation appear at higher rate
among the middle class than among working classes may be projected to infer
that the rate is highest in the upper reaches of the middle class In 1979 as major
new liturgical pattern loomed in the Church of England it was the cultural and
political establishment which petitioned the General Synod to preserve the
traditional forms some six hundred politicians academics lawyers musicians
artists and writers registered themselves in opposition to the trend for liturgical
change Martin 1979)
One of the functions of such pattern of expectations is the assumption that
conservative religious attitudes cluster For example the pressure group resisting
liturgical change in the Church of England the Prayer Book Society operates in
harmony with other organizations which oppose the ordination of women These
lobbies share some leaders and many members of the Prayer Book Society urge it
to express its view on other matters than liturgy Within sociological research
such expectations have been largely stimulated by the seminal work of Gorsuch
and Aleshire 1974 who studied the relationship of religiosity to such dimensions
of conservative behaviour as ethnic prejudice Following this work Filsinger
1979 and his colleagues have observed conservative tendency among college
students in whom conservative position on social consequences is associated
with strong positions on pré-marital sex and abortion 1979 141 Further
Petersen and Takayama 1984 have related religiosity to conservative attitudes on
foreign aid church activism racial conservatism pré-marital sex divorce birth
control abortion and church authority It is upon the relationship between
conservative religious attitudes that the study of elite religiosity provides
The most recent investigation of the religiosity of the cultural and political
elite in Britain was commissioned by The Spectator weekly review published in
London and conducted by the Harns Research Centre in November 1986 The
research was earned out by the interviewing of 151 respondents on the basis of an
extensive structured questionnaire The purpose was to survey personal beliefs
experience and preferences regarding series of religious factors including passage
rites tendencies toward traditionalism attitudes to church and state levels of
religious knowledge and dispositions to the clergy Denominational allegiance and
frequency of religious attendance were investigated and results were cross-tabulated
againstthese measures Clergy were excluded from the sample which was drawn from
members of both houses of parliament the City academic life both sides of industry
the legal profession the civil service the media medicine and the arts
Allegiance and attendance patterns
Respondents were asked whether they believed in God and the nature of
denominational allegiance Paradoxically there were believers among those who
declared themselves as being without religion and atheists in all Christian groups
except the Roman Catholic church Of the total sample 74 believed in God 11 was
atheist and the remainder undecided 42 belonged to the Church of England 14
were Roman Catholic and 19 were affiliated to other Christian groups
Religious attendance once month or more frequently was professed by very
high proportions of all believing groups Some 55 of the overall sample claimed
to attend so frequently as did 71 of all believers and 72 of all Christians
The sample included one Hindu two Jews and no Moslems This signified
an over-representation of Christian allegiances in the population at large for
example there are more Moslems than Methodists of whom there were seven in
the sample drawn
Subjects were read series of simplified expressions of Christian doctrines
and asked to indicate their belief or disbelief on five-point scale Conventional
Christian beliefs were strongest among Roman Catholics in the sample but in all
sectors the overwhelming majority tended toward belief in basic Christian
doctrines It is remarkable that in scientific age educated and successful people
tend to believe in the reality of miracles and the efficacy of prayer
Religious Belief
Percentages of respondents declaring firm belief in selected Christian doctrines
Overall All Church of Belief Roman Other
Christians England Catholic Christians
64 75 68 85 85
In the Trinity .................................. 58 67 58 90 69
In the Virgin Birth ...................... 40 47 39 80 42
That Body rose from the 46 56 48 80 58
dead ...................................................
52 59 55 85 50
In Hell .............................................. 35 41 32 75 35
That miracles actually 50 57 48 80 62
That prayer can alter events on 48 55 50 55 65
earth ..................................................
Rites of passage
In Great-Britain there is provision for both secular and religious forms of
marriage and funeral rites Marrying couples and the fa

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