How Religion, Social Class, and Race Intersect in the Shaping of Young Women’s Understandings of Sex, Reproduction, and Contraception

Title

How Religion, Social Class, and Race Intersect in the Shaping of Young Women’s Understandings of Sex, Reproduction, and Contraception

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Description

Using a complex religion framework, this study examines how and why three dimensions of religiosity—biblical literalism, personal religiosity, and religious service attendance—are related to young women’s reproductive and contraceptive knowledge differently by social class and race. We triangulate the analysis of survey data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study and semi-structured interview data from the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) to identify and explain patterns. From the quantitative data, we find that all three dimensions of religiosity link to young women’s understandings of sex, reproduction, and contraception in unique ways according to parental education and racial identity. There is a lack of knowledge about female reproductive biology for young women of higher SES with conservative Christian beliefs (regardless of race), but personal religiosity and religious service attendance are related to more accurate contraceptive knowledge for young black women and less accurate knowledge for young White women. From the qualitative data, we find that class and race differences in the meaning of religion and how it informs sexual behavior help explain results from the quantitative data. Our results demonstrate the importance of taking a complex religion approach to studying religion and sex-related outcomes.

Publication Date

12-23-2020

Keywords

religion; race; social class; contraceptive knowledge; reproductive knowledge; complex religion

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

How Religion, Social Class, and Race Intersect in the Shaping of Young Women’s Understandings of Sex, Reproduction, and Contraception

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