A Mighty Fortress Is Our Atheism: Defining the Nature of Religiousness in the Elderly
This chapter argues that the concept of social context is intimately tied to definitional issues in this area of research and important for appreciating the various mechanisms and pathways through which religion is thought to affect well-being. It presents three distinct themes in the religious research literature that are a source of continued discussion in the field-conceptualization and measurement issues, psychosocial mechanisms and causal pathways and models. The chapter focuses on contextual factors as representing: distinctive worldviews or ecological perspectives and as embodying differences in social location. The concept of social context is an important lens through which to assess various conceptual, methodological and analytic issues in current research. The long tradition of work on African-American religion embodies an inherent ecological perspective. The investigation of relationships between religion and well-being has been predominated by direct effects models, particularly the effects of behavioral and attitudinal measures of religious involvement on well-being.