Re-understanding religion and support for gender equality in Arab countries
SourceGender & Society, 32, 5, (2018), pp. 686-712
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
Gender & Society
SubjectInequality Cohesion Rationalization; Ongelijkheid Cohesie Rationalisatie
Much is said about Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) publics opposing gender equality, often referring to patriarchal Islam. However, nuanced large-scale studies addressing which specific aspects of religiosity affect support for gender equality across the MENA are conspicuously absent. This study develops and tests a gendered agentic socialization framework that proposes that MENA citizens are not only passively socialized by religion but also have agency (within their religiosity). This disaggregates the influence of religiosity, highlights its multifacetedness, and theorizes the moderating roles that gender and sociocognitive empowerment play via gendered processes of agentic dissociations. Using 15 World Values Surveys and multilevel models, our analyses show that most dimensions of religiosity fuel opposition to gender equality. However, the salience of religion in daily life is found to increase women's support for gender equality and cushion the negative impact of religious service attendance. Also, gender and education moderate the impacts of several religiosity dimensions; for instance, women's (initially greater) support for gender equality more sharply declines with increased service attendance than men's. Altogether, this study finds that religious socialization is multifaceted and gendered, and that certain men and women are inclined and equipped to deviate from dominant patriarchal religious interpretations.
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