Religious Congregations and Social Justice Participation: A Multilevel Examination of Social Processes and Leadership

Jaclyn D. Houston, Nathan R. Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Religious congregations have potential to be mediating structures for social justice participation. However, research has yet to examine the specific social processes or leadership characteristics within congregations that may promote social justice participation. In this study, we use data from 176,901 participants nested within 1,938 congregations to test how social processes (i.e., religious attendance at worship services, extra-worship participation, bonding social capital, a congregational norm for justice) and leadership characteristics (i.e., leader modeling of justice, horizontal leadership style) predict personal social justice involvement through the congregation (i.e., participation in social justice activities sponsored by the congregation) as well as personal social justice involvement outside the congregation (i.e., participation in social justice activities not sponsored by the congregation). We use multilevel logistic regression to examine these social processes and leadership characteristics at both individual and congregational levels of analysis. Results showed distinct patterns of associations at individual and congregational levels of analysis and that different social processes and leadership characteristics predicted personal social justice participation through or outside the congregation. These findings reveal the importance of social processes and leadership characteristics in understanding how congregations may mediate social justice participation. Implications for community psychology research and practiced also are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-287
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Volume52
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Empowering community settings
  • Religious congregations
  • Social justice
  • Social settings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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