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Religion and Democratic Citizenship: A Multilevel Examination

  • Catherine Bolzendahl (a1), Landon Schnabel (a2) and Rottem Sagi


We conduct a multilevel examination of the relationship between religiosity and democratic citizenship norms and behaviors using International Social Survey Program data. We analyze how democratic engagement varies according to individual and national average religious involvement in 28 predominantly-Christian democracies. We find that (1) individual-level religious attendance is positively linked to both what people say (norms) and what they do (participation); (2) nations with higher aggregate national attendance participate less politically; and (3) the relationship between individual-level religious engagement and citizenship varies by national religious context. More specifically, individual religious attendance matters more where it is more distinctive (i.e., in more secular countries). Individual-level religious participation is generally conducive to citizenship, but its impact is context-dependent.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Catherine Bolzendahl, Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Science Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697. E-mail:


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We thank members of the UCLA Comparative Analysis Seminar, UCI International and Comparative Sociology Workshop, Ann Hironaka and members of her writing group, Stan Bailey, Eulalie Laschaver, and Rune Stubager for helpful comments on previous drafts.



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