Stefano Arnolfo, Lorenzo Todesco

The last shall be first. The hypothesis of compensation in the relationship between social class and religiosity in Italy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Social class; Social stratification; Religion; Church; Italy

The relationship between social class and religiosity has been studied for a long time now, especially in the United States. However, studies on this topic devoted to Italy are few in number and partially outdated. This work aims at bridging this gap in the available literature: using data coming from the most recent European Values Studies for Italy, we analyze the relationship between social class and individual levels of religiosity, following the compensation theory put forward by Stark and Bainbridge (1980). According to this approach, lower classes are more likely to turn to religion to compensate for the struggle in obtaining those earthly rewards that other classes can acquire more easily, due to their more advantageous position in the stratification system. Some results confirm this hypothesis while others do not, showing some limits in the explicative power of the compensation theory. As a matter of fact, lower classes and self-employed do show higher levels of religiosity. Nonetheless, the most surprising results is found regarding frequency of individual prayer: higher and lower classes pray with the same occurrence, while middle class employee does so less frequently. These findings are discussed in an attempt to propose some interpretations and point out possible new research paths.

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