Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Why do people switch religions? Under the theoretical framework of interactionism theory of conversion, which posits that the interplay between active, negotiated, and socially constructed aspects of human behavior and different aspects of social context lead to religious conversion, I propose that economic mobility and income affect whether or not one chooses to switch religions from the one in which they were raised. I rely on the 2016 General Social Survey (GSS) that was administered to 2,867 randomly selected adults living in households in the United States in 2016. I analyze data from a subset of 1,068 married respondents to examine the effects of economic mobility, income, exogamy, geographic mobility, education, race, age, and sex on religious mobility and apostasy. There are no significant correlations between economic mobility and income with religious mobility or apostasy. The only significant predictor of religious mobility and apostasy is exogamy. Respondents who have married outside of the religion in which they were raised are more likely to be religiously mobile or abandon religion altogether than those who are endogamous. Additionally, older respondents are less likely to abandon religion than younger respondents. My hypothesis is not supported. However, the results support interactionism theory of conversion as exogamy is a significant predictor of religious mobility. These results confirm that the institution of marriage plays a significant role in whether or not someone converts religions; furthermore, the bonds of marriage outweigh one’s bond to the religion in which they were raised.
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Thompson, Ruby, "Religious Mobility in the United States: The Effects of Income and Economic Mobility on Religious Conversion" (2018). Sociology Senior Seminar Papers. 9.