Friday, February 10, 2012

Journal Entry #13

As it happens, thirteen is my favorite number, and this is my thirteenth learning journal post. Bangarang.

As I've been doing research these last few days, I've been trying to look at the work I've done and the direction I'm going with this project in a more global way. My work so far has been somewhat arbitrary, as I've searched for articles and studies online, and essentially read the first ones that have come up. However, religion is something that has been heavily researched for more than fifty years, and entire journals are dedicated to the study of different aspects of religion. In order to focus my work while I'm in London, my research beforehand has to be more focused.

So I started collecting references to other papers using the research articles I have already read. A lot of the referenced articles are rather straightforward, using statistical tests and surveys to prove correlations between religiosity and attitudes about premarital sex, drug use, criminality, marriage and marital longevity, family unity, work ethic, academic performance, and physical health. Then, I created another sections for studies that have analyzed the academic strength of religious schools. The study that I cited for last class had a different unit of analysis: it analyzed academic performance and religiosity comparing the connection between individual academic performance and individual religiosity instead of the religiosity of the school and the academic performance of that entire school, which many previous studies had done. Lastly, I am creating a list of cited studies that concern religion and religious beliefs in a more general way, including how to measure religiosity.

This is all well and good, and should be very helpful in the future as I'm deciding on what research papers to study for my project. I want to have a pretty thorough understanding of what has been researched and understood by social scientists about religion and religious behavior in various contexts of life. While I'm in London, I will probably decide on a couple of aspects of religiosity to focus on in the surveys I'll be giving and the interviews I'll be conducting, but it will be very good to have an over-arching understanding of how religiosity has been shown to be a contributing factor to certain behaviors, attitudes, and social factors. It will be very interesting to see how individuals in London believe religion makes a difference in their lives and how past research has provided evidence supporting or disproving these assumptions. Since my research question focuses mainly on what Londoners believe are the positive and negative effects of decreasing religiosity, my topic allows for changes in public policy that might better inform the public about how religiosity affects individuals and society. Then again, if what they all think matches up perfectly with what has been proven to happen, that would be pretty remarkable all by itself.

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