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Between Sacral Belief and Moral Community: A Multidimensional Approach to the Relationship between Religion and Alcohol among Whites and Blacks

Julie Ford and Charles Kadushin
Sociological Forum
Vol. 17, No. 2 (Jun., 2002), pp. 255-279
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3070326
Page Count: 25
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Between Sacral Belief and Moral Community: A Multidimensional Approach to the Relationship between Religion and Alcohol among Whites and Blacks
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Abstract

This study explores the conditions under which two dimensions of religion first specified by Durkheim (1995), the normative and the integrative, may be related to a particular aspect of alcohol use among white and black adults. The analysis compares those denominations that oppose the use of alcohol to those that do not, while simultaneously examining the effects of the relative strength of the commitment to the religious community on the risk for dependency. Because a substantially large sample drawn from 41 mid-sized cities nationwide is employed, the study is able to expand the set of denominations considered, and, more importantly, to conduct a more refined analysis of differences between black and white respondents than is typically possible. The findings indicate that although effects due to religious denomination are certainly a factor in the risk for dependency, this is much more so the case among whites than among blacks. By contrast, among blacks, frequency of church attendance, a measure of integration, is a more powerful predictor of risk than it is for whites. These results suggest that to more fully comprehend the manner in which alcohol use and religion are linked, especially in the black community, the organizational nature of the church-and not solely its denomination-needs to be considered in the attempt to assess the risk of alcohol dependency.

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