Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A theory of immigrant religious adaptation: Disruption, assimilation, and facilitation
by Connor, Phillip Carey, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2010, 363; 3410990
Abstract (Summary)

Current literature claims that religious activity not only eases the emotional adjustment of immigrants within the receiving society, but it also serves as a mechanism for upward mobility and building of social capital. Although immigrant religious participation facilitates immigrant incorporation, we still know very little of the religious adaptation process in general terms. Previous immigrant religion research is voluminous, but mostly qualitative in methodology, and American in scope. Due to a lack of representative immigrant data, an interlocking theory of immigrant religious adaptation has been challenging to construct.

Using multiple, recently available immigrant cohort datasets from the Western world (i.e. Canada, the United States, Australia, and Western Europe), this dissertation finds similar processes of immigrant adaptation within various receiving societies, regardless of national context or religious group affiliation. The data show that migrating internationally disrupts the regularity of religious participation among immigrants. This is less due to individual-level changes than to religious contextual changes from origin to host societies. Although immigrants do not assimilate en masse to the dominant religious beliefs in the new society, immigrants do religiously assimilate in terms of form or frequency of religious participation. Over time and at a local level, immigrant religious participation begins to converge to the frequency patterns of the native population in the new society. However, this religious participation assimilation does not occur equally for all religious groups in all national contexts. For example, Muslims in Western Europe are less likely to adopt their host societies’ patterns of religious participation. Lastly, immigrant religious participation is also found to facilitate the incorporation process. Migrants who regularly attend a religious group have better mental health. Except for a few religious minority groups, regular religious participation, however, is not found to significantly improve labor outcomes such as employment or wages.

The extensive empirical research conducted in this dissertation across multiple contexts results in a robust, interlocking theory of immigrant religious adaptation, representative of recent immigrant cohorts to the Western industrialized world. Additionally, the dissertation elaborates migration theory more generally by identifying that immigrant adaptation occurs through the three distinct areas of disruption, assimilation, and facilitation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wuthnow, Robert
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Sociology, Demography
Keywords: Assimilation, Immigrant adaptation, Immigrant religion, Immigrant religiosity, Immigration, Religion, Religious adaptation
Publication Number: 3410990
ISBN: 978-1-124-05114-7
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