Programme 2013

Tuesday 16th July       Wednesday 17th July       Thursday 18th July       Friday 19th July      

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Tuesday 16th July 2013, 14:00 - 15:30, Room: No. 15

Faith, values and moral attitudes: problems and perspectives of standardized survey measurements 2

Convenor Mr Pascal Siegers (University of Duesseldorf)
Coordinator 1Dr Tilo Beckers (University of Duesseldorf)

Session Details

Although Europe experiences a process of secularization, religious beliefs still constitute an important factor shaping moral attitudes. In this respect, beliefs might concur or compete with values as rationale for attitude formation.
This session addresses the question, how beliefs and values explain individuals' moral attitudes. Theories of religious individualization argue that new form of religion developed in Europe. Heelas and Houtman claim that sociology has to go "beyond the holy Trinity of 'Believer', 'Agnostic', and 'Atheist'" (Heelas/Houtman 2009: 92). New forms of belief (e.g. spirituality, bricolage religiosity) should be studied more systematically in survey research. It is of particular theoretical interest, whether new forms of belief are socially significant, i.e. whether they influence individuals' attitudes and behavior (Voas/Bruce 2007). However, hardly anything is known about the effects of new beliefs on moral attitudes.
In addition, interdependencies between values and beliefs might gain more attention in research. The high correlation between religious beliefs and values points to the question of whether (new) beliefs make a contribution to the explanation of moral attitudes if values are controlled for.
We invite papers that study the effects of beliefs and values on moral attitudes. Contributions that compare effects of alternative beliefs (e.g. spirituality, bricolage religiosity) with traditional religiosity are particularly welcome. Innovative scales for measuring new forms of belief or critical assessments of existing measurements (e.g. of spirituality) are particularly welcome.
Please indicate five keywords.

Paper Details

1. Beyond church religiosity: How alternative spiritualities, atheism and self-determination values foster acceptance of euthanasia in Europe.
Ms Mira Hassan (Universität Düsseldorf)
Dr Tilo Beckers (Universität Düsseldorf)
Dr Pascal Siegers (Universität Düsseldorf)

The legitimacy of euthanasia is a very controversially discussed issue in Europe, with largely differing attitudes expressed in parliaments, in the press and by the population in different nation states.
Our study extends existing research on attitudes toward euthanasia. We differentiate between forms of beliefs and unbelief including alternative spiritualities and religious indifference in the analysis besides traditional church religiosity (Siegers 2012). Research has shown that self-determination values (SDV) foster the acceptance of euthanasia. At the country level, we control for the responsiveness of the health system and the religious composition of the society. We apply cross-national hierarchical linear two-level models for 27 predominantly protestant and catholic countries using the data of the European Values Study (EVS) 2008.
Our results show that Siegers' classes substantially extend the explanation of attitudes towards euthanasia. We find people being 'alternative spiritual' having the most liberal attitudes towards euthanasia compared to all other religious orientations. Moreover, SDV have a stronger effect on attitudes towards euthanasia if they do not contradict individual's religious beliefs.
Theoretical assumptions make it plausible to expect an increase of alternative spiritual believers and atheists. These people are more willing to accept moral choices at the end of life guided by religious self-realization and value-based SDV rather than obeying the moral standards of the churches. A "rising tide" of moral acceptance of practices hastening death is to be expected in the future if spirituality and atheism gain influence as compared to church religiosity.

2. "Orthodox Monitor": 3 waves of an all-Russian survey
Miss Daria Oreshina (St.Tikhon's Orthodox University (OSTHU))
Mrs Elena Prutskova (St.Tikhon's Orthodox University (OSTHU))
Mr Ivan Zabaev (St.Tikhon's Orthodox University (OSTHU))

Contemporary surveys of religiosity are based mainly on the Protestant ideas on religion. Such surveys are not sufficient for understanding religiosity in Orthodox Christian countries, because the indicators, important due to the specificity of Orthodoxy, aren't taken into account: (1) the specificity of religion (official church organization (patriarchy and clergy authority, etc.), significance of the sacraments character, priests background, etc.) and (2) the situation in Orthodox Christian countries (many of them are the former socialist countries, which experienced the forced secularization, and nowadays there can't be found so-called "religion market", common for the USA).
"Orthodox Monitor" is a research project, aimed at in-depth studying religiosity in Orthodox Countries. First three waves of the survey were conducted in Russia during 2011 and 2012 with a multistage stratified random sample design. The survey was designed by "Sociology of Religion" project at St.Tikhon's Orthodox University (, and the fieldwork was carried out by the "Public Opinion Foundation".
The research is aimed at studying the iterrelations between religiosity, values and practices of Russian population. The first wave (December 2011) was a detailed study of the general population attitudes towards the Russian Orthodox Church, religious involvement characteristics and motivation, values, practices. The second wave (October 2012) was a shortened replication of the some questions from the first wave. The third wave (December 2012) is a study of the core Church members. It contains questions on values(Shwartz 21items PVQ), Church social work participation, social networks.

3. Measurement of Atheism
Ms Jara Kampmann (GESIS)

For decades the field of sociology of religion experiences discourses on the measurement of religiosity. In contrast, the measurement of Atheism has not been issued to any discussions, let alone any controversies. The uncritical application of measures bears the risk of potentially biased figures. Examining three of the big 'European' social surveys, i.e. EVS, ISSP and ESS, we find two kinds of measures, a direct one, explicitly spelling out the term "Atheist", and indirect ones, applying in varying wording distinct categories of believes or scales for self-assessment of religiosity. We assume that the two kinds of measures draw on different concepts, i.e. that the direct measure calls on an additional underlying dimension triggered by the term Atheist. Our ad hoc hypothesis is that the term "Atheist" has a negative connotation as it evokes associations to being e.g. anti-religious, pro-communist, anti-social or amoral. By the mechanism of social desirability the direct measure, thus, leads to an underestimation of the percentage of Atheists in a given society. Comparing the different measures' outcomes, discrepancies range from hardly any up to a surplus of over 20% for the indirect measures. By regression of the different measures on demographic factors and comparing the (decomposed) regression coefficients, we receive further hints promoting our assumptions of diverging concepts.