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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: September 2012

16 - Religion and the Intergenerational Continuity of Values

from Part Four - Socialization Processes of Values and Religion in Adolescent Development



Adolescence is an important period for the development of values and identity. As relationships with parents are negotiated and convictions are questioned, it is an especially intriguing time to study the interface of religion with processes leading to the intergenerational continuity of values. Religion can provide the content of values, as well as the context of intergenerational value continuity, by developing appropriate establishments, and by enabling (or not) disengagement from parental values. In addition, individuals’ religiosity is reflected in their values and in family processes of value negotiation, influence, and modification.

Two Israeli case studies illustrate these processes. Study 1 studied 107 parent–adolescent dyads from three religious minorities in Israel: Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs, and Jerusalem Armenian Christians. Muslims ascribed less importance than Christians to hedonism and power, exemplifying the content process. Armenians, a very small and secluded minority, were the only group in which adolescents ascribed lower importance for openness than their parents, exemplifying the role of context with a cocooning process, in which socialization shields children from competing messages (Goodnow, 1997).

Study 2 involved 36 non-religious Jewish youth whose parents were either religious or not. The average value profile parent–child correlation was .50 in non-religious families, much higher than in families who had been religious but decided to become non-religious (.18), exemplifying the importance of religion.

Future directions include the need for studying non-Western religions and family processes in religious as compared to ethnic minorities.

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