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Religious Trajectories and Transitions Over the Life Course

Publication Abstract

Ingersoll-Dayton, Berit, Neal Krause, and D. Morgan. 2002. "Religious Trajectories and Transitions Over the Life Course." International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 55(1): 51-70.

This study examined patterns of change and stability in religiosity over the life course. Open-ended interviews with 129 adults aged 65 and older provided a rich source of data for applying a life course perspective to the study of religion. Two theoretical constructs from the life course perspective (i.e., trajectories and transitions) were used as a framework for understanding religion and aging. The interviews were content analyzed to identify: 1) dimensions of religiosity that exhibit change; 2) patterns of religious trajectories; and 3) social forces that promote changes in religiosity. These analyses revealed four distinct patterns: stable, increasing, decreasing, and curvilinear trajectories. Several forces were involved with either increasing religiosity (e.g., child rearing, adverse life experiences) or decreasing religiosity (e.g., disillusionment with church members, adverse life experiences). Directions for future research are discussed.

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