Costs of Diversity in Religious Organizations: An In-depth Case Study
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
A significant body of literature has documented and explained the racial and ethnic homogeneity of volunteer organizations, including religious ones. This paper seeks to break new ground by beginning to examine ethnically diverse religious organizations. In this study we ask: What are the personal costs of being in a multiethnic religious organization, and are these costs borne disproportionately by any specific groups of people? Drawing on macrostructural theories of intergroup relations and social psychological principles, we hypothesize that minority groups (in size and power) within ethnically mixed congregations will disproportionately bear costs compared to the majority group. We test our hypotheses using a case study congregation, conducting in-depth interviews with 22 members and 4 former members of the congregation. We also conduct a network analysis with 38 members of the congregation. We conclude that the same social dynamics that tend to produce internal homogeneity in volunteer organizations also produce high personal costs of belonging to multiethnic religious organizations. This is an important finding because it leads to the larger question of how multiethnic religious organizations survive despite these costs.
Religious institutions; Intergroup relations
Sociology of Religion
Christerson, Brad, "Costs of Diversity in Religious Organizations: An In-depth Case Study" (2003). Faculty Articles & Research. 52.