Archive for the 'Culture, Values and Attitudes' Category

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Is a happier society possible?

Is a happier society possible?
By: Richard Layard
Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

From the website:

What can we do to create a happier society?

This lecture was presented by Lord Richard Layard, Emeritus Professor of Economics at LSE, on 10 March 2011. He explores four critical areas of our lives that can be optimised to increase happiness: income, human relationships, altruism and work. He goes on to discuss the Action for Happiness movement, which launches on 12 April 2011 and aims to encourage a mass movement of people pursuing a better way of life. The Action for Happiness website provides ten keys for happier living.

This was the fourth Joseph Rowntree Foundation Lecture, delivered at the University of York on 10 March 2011. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation Lecture is an annual public lecture aimed at significantly advancing research and public understanding in the areas of welfare, poverty and social justice. The lecture is co-hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the University of York’s School of Politics, Economics and Philosophy.


Summary (PDF)

Full audio can be found here (1 hr. 20 mins.)

India’s 2011 Census to Include Third Gender Option

A First for Census Taking: The Third Sex
By: Carl Haub and O.P. Sharma
Source: Behind the Numbers, Population Reference Bureau

From the beginning, questions on one’s sex on census forms had two choices: male or female. But no more. In its upcoming decennial census, to be conducted in February, India offer the possibility of a third response – “other” (see partial facsimile of the census form below). The innovation has generated quite a bit of publicity in the Indian press. The group most affected by this change to the census form is usually referred to in India as transgenders/eunuchs, or hijras.

Full post

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us

A Conversation with David Campbell
Speaker: David Campbell, University of Notre Dame Professor and Coauthor, “American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us”
Respondent: John Green, Senior Research Adviser, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Moderator: Alan Cooperman, Associate Director of Research, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

From the Pew Research Center’s website:

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life held a press luncheon on Dec. 16, 2010 with political science professors David Campbell and John Green on the topic of how religion both divides and unites Americans. Campbell is the co-author, with Harvard professor Robert Putnam, of “American Grace,” a book which examines the changing role of religion in America since the 1960s.

In the edited excerpt, ellipses have been omitted to facilitate reading. The full transcript is available at pewforum.org.

The Old and New Politics of Faith

The Old and New Politics of Faith: Religion and the 2010 Election
By: E.J. Dionne and William A. Gaston
Source: The Brookings Institution

From Introduction:

Economic convulsions have a way of changing the priorities of voters. Although concerns for their own and their families’ well-being are never far from citizens’ minds, these matters are less pressing in prosperous times. At such moments, voters feel freer to use elections as ways of registering their views on matters related to religion, culture, values and foreign policy.

But when times turn harsh, the politics of jobs, wealth, and income can overwhelm everything else. Thus did the focus of the country’s politics change radically between 1928, a classic culture war contest dominated by arguments over prohibition and presidential candidate Al Smith’s religious faith, and 1932, when the Great Depression ushered in a new political alignment and created what became Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition.

Full text

How Religious is Your State?

How Religious is Your State?
Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

Which of the 50 states has the most religious population? Since there are many ways to define “religious,” there is no single answer to this question. But to give a sense of how the states stack up, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life used polling data to rank them on four measures: the importance of religion in people’s lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God.

Check out an interactive graphic at pewforum.org to see how your state — and all the other states — rank according to each of the four measure. (States with sample sizes that are too small to analyze are combined. As a result, the lowest ranking is 46 rather than 50.)

The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?

The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?
By: Allison Pond and Greg Smith
Source: Pew Research Center

A common perception about individuals who switch religions is that they are very fervent about their new faith. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life provides quantitative support for this piece of conventional wisdom often referred to as the “zeal of the convert.”

The analysis finds that people who have switched faiths (or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion) are indeed slightly more religious than those who have remained in their childhood faith, as measured by the importance of religion in their lives, the frequency with which they attend religious services and other measures of religious commitment.

However, the analysis also finds that the differences in religious commitment between converts and nonconverts are generally very small and are more apparent among some religious groups than among others.

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Mapping the Global Muslim Population

Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population
By The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.
While Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% is in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Indeed, more than half of the 20 countries and territories in that region have populations that are approximately 95% Muslim or greater.
Full report (PDF)

Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?

Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?
By: J.J. Prescott (with Jonah E. Rockoff)
Population Studies Center Brown Bag Seminar, October 12, 2009

In recent decades, sex offenders have been the targets of some of the most far-reaching and novel crime legislation in the U.S. Two key innovations have been registration and notification laws which, respectively, require that convicted sex offenders provide valid contact information to law enforcement authorities, and that information on sex offenders be made public. Using detailed information on the timing and scope of changes in state law, we study how registration and notification affect the frequency of sex offenses and the incidence of offenses across victims, and we check for any change in police response to reported crimes. We find evidence that registration reduces the frequency of sex offenses by providing law enforcement with information on local sex offenders. As we predict from a simple model of criminal behavior, this decrease in crime is concentrated among “local” victims (e.g., friends, acquaintances, neighbors), while there is little evidence of a decrease in crimes against strangers. We also find evidence that community notification deters crime, but in a way unanticipated by legislators. Our results suggest that community notification deters first-time sex offenders, but may increase recidivism by registered offenders by increasing the relative attractiveness of criminal behavior. This finding is consistent with work by criminologists showing that notification may contribute to recidivism by imposing social and financial costs on registered sex offenders and, as a result, making non-criminal activity relatively less attractive. We regard this latter finding as potentially important, given that the purpose of community notification is the reduction of recidivism.

NBER Working Paper (PDF)

Why Do People Give? The Role of Identity in Giving

Why Do People Give? The Role of Identity in Giving
By: Jennifer L. Aaker; Satoshi Akutsu
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Papers

Why do people give to others? One principal driver involves one’s identity: who one is and how they view themselves. The degree to which identities are malleable, involve a readiness to act, and help make sense of the world have significant implications determining whether and how much people give. Drawing on the Identity-Based Motivation model (IBM; Oyserman, 2009), we provide a tripartite framework to help advance the research on the psychology of giving.

Full text (PDF)

Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief?

Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief? An Interchange between Psychology and Religion
By: Tomas James Rees
Source: Journal of Religion and Society

The cause of cross-national differences in individual-level religiosity has a rich history of scholarly debate rooted in observations of an apparent decline in religiosity in the modern era. Numerous causal factors have been proposed. A prominent strand of thought, originally formulated by Weber, supposes that greater education, along with the free and open transmission and discussion of ideas, undermines superstitious or non-naturalistic thinking. Empirical support for this includes the observation that national-level religiosity and scientific productivity are inversely correlated (Jaffe). Another strand, rooted in the work of Durkheim, suggests that the displacement of religious social institutions by secular ones leads to the gradual loss of importance of religious ideas. Complicating the debate are the multitudinous definitions of the term “secularization,” which has come to refer variously to a decline in religious participation or a decline in individual piety.

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