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Operationalizing Evangelicalism: A Review, Critique & Proposal

James Davison Hunter
Sociological Analysis
Vol. 42, No. 4 (Winter, 1981), pp. 363-372
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3711547
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3711547
Page Count: 10
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Operationalizing Evangelicalism: A Review, Critique & Proposal
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Abstract

Among the chief problems faced by a researcher in studying American Evangelicalism in survey research is the way in which he/she operationalizes the concept, Evangelical. Techniques for operationalizing this concept typically fall under four general rubrics: those techniques which involve (1) demographic criteria, (2) attitudinal criteria, (3) theological attitudinal criteria and (4) attitudinal criteria to measure an abstraction of the phenomenon. After a critical examination of the techniques used in empirical research, an alternative method is proposed which attempts to appreciate the way in which Evangelicals define themselves, theologically and in terms of their specific religious heritage. This overall effort is aimed at stimulating discussion on the strategies for developing consistent and phenomenologically sensitive ways of measuring the concept, Evangelical, in survey research.

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