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Religious attitudes among British older people: stability and change in a 20-year longitudinal study.

Religious attitudes among British older people: stability and change in a 20-year longitudinal study.
Religious attitudes among British older people: stability and change in a 20-year longitudinal study.
Britain along with other western European countries has seen a marked decrease in allegiance to traditional forms of Christianity during the latter part of the 20th century. Although church attendance remains relatively high among older people compared with younger age groups, there has been little or no investigation into the stability or change of people's religious belief and practice with increasing age. This paper present findings on these issues from the Southampton Ageing Project, which from 1977–78 to 2002 followed 342 people almost all of whom had had an entirely Christian religious education and all of whom at the outset were aged 65 or more years. Although religion has continued to have considerable meaning in the lives of up to one-half of the participants, approximately one-quarter of the sample expressed a declining commitment to a religious faith and to church membership. The participants' accounts of their recent life experiences, for example following bereavement, give instances of disappointment with the support that they received from institutional religion and show that this was a factor in their declining adherence. They also provide suggestions for further investigation into the origin of this decline. The conclusion argues that the study of older people's religious and spiritual beliefs and practice should be integrated with the investigation of self and identity and of sources of existential meaning in later life.
religion, christianity, age changes, existential meaning, identity, bereavement
0144-686X
167-188
Coleman, Peter G.
1c55586e-c367-470c-b14b-832edb75c0ce
Ivani-Chalian, Christine
aeb171f2-dbdd-4947-a091-dde3b4c3b768
Robinson, Maureen
17633612-7540-4a8d-8ce3-a25968457a89
Coleman, Peter G.
1c55586e-c367-470c-b14b-832edb75c0ce
Ivani-Chalian, Christine
aeb171f2-dbdd-4947-a091-dde3b4c3b768
Robinson, Maureen
17633612-7540-4a8d-8ce3-a25968457a89

Coleman, Peter G., Ivani-Chalian, Christine and Robinson, Maureen (2004) Religious attitudes among British older people: stability and change in a 20-year longitudinal study. Ageing & Society, 24 (2), 167-188. (doi:10.1017/S0144686X03001636).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Britain along with other western European countries has seen a marked decrease in allegiance to traditional forms of Christianity during the latter part of the 20th century. Although church attendance remains relatively high among older people compared with younger age groups, there has been little or no investigation into the stability or change of people's religious belief and practice with increasing age. This paper present findings on these issues from the Southampton Ageing Project, which from 1977–78 to 2002 followed 342 people almost all of whom had had an entirely Christian religious education and all of whom at the outset were aged 65 or more years. Although religion has continued to have considerable meaning in the lives of up to one-half of the participants, approximately one-quarter of the sample expressed a declining commitment to a religious faith and to church membership. The participants' accounts of their recent life experiences, for example following bereavement, give instances of disappointment with the support that they received from institutional religion and show that this was a factor in their declining adherence. They also provide suggestions for further investigation into the origin of this decline. The conclusion argues that the study of older people's religious and spiritual beliefs and practice should be integrated with the investigation of self and identity and of sources of existential meaning in later life.

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More information

Published date: 2004
Keywords: religion, christianity, age changes, existential meaning, identity, bereavement

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 39963
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/39963
ISSN: 0144-686X
PURE UUID: b2d976cd-0d53-42e7-8268-aee29f26f4b5

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2006
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 19:00

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Author: Christine Ivani-Chalian
Author: Maureen Robinson

University divisions

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