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A more-or-less coherent system of statements about the world, that often achieve some degree of consensus in a formal religious organization or diffuse religious subculture.  A broader term than religion, ideology refers to a belief system that is constructed and maintained to deal with moral issues in personal experience and social relations.  All adequately functioning humans operate from some form of belief system, which establishes the mental schemas from which they derive patterns of action.

The term ideology has often been used pejoratively to connote belief systems that are considered false or misleading.  This is especially the case from Marxist perspectives.  More recently however, some researchers have moved toward using the term in a more value-neutral manner.  See Gerring (1997) for an overview of the uses of the term. 

For a critical discussion of what stated personal beliefs (and by implication ideology) mean in relation to one’s understanding of his or her position relative to others in “social space” see (Martin 2000; Martin and Desmond 2010). 


Borhek, James T. and Richard F. Curtis.  1975.  A Sociology of Belief.  New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Converse, Phillip E.  1964. “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics.” Pp. 206-261 in Ideology and Discontent, edited by David Apter.  New York, NY: The Free Press.

Gerring, John.  1997.  “Ideology: A Definitional Analysis.”  Political Research Quarterly 50(4):957-994.

Horowitz, Irving Louis.  1961.  Philosophy, Science and the Sociology of Knowledge.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Martin, John Levi.  2000.  “The Relation of Aggregate Statistics on Beliefs to Culture and Cognition.”  Poetics 28:5-20

Martin, John Levi. 2002. “Power, Authority, and the Constraint of Belief Systems.” American Journal of Sociology 107:861-904.

Martin, John Levi and Matthew Desmond.  2010.  “Political Position and Social Knowledge.”  Sociological Forum 25(1):1-26.

Smith, Christian.  2003.  Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture.  New York, NY: Oxford Univeristy Press.

Stark, Werner.  [1958] 1991.  The Sociology of Knowledge: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the History of Ideas.  New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Vaisey, Stephen.  2009.  “Motivation and Justification: A Dual-Process Model of Culture in Action.”  American Journal of Sociology 114(6):1675-1715.

Wuthnow, Robert. 1976. The Consciousness Reformation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wuthnow, Robert.  1987.  Meaning and Moral Order: Explorations in Cultural Analysis.  Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

The following are possible measures of Ideology that can be created using data from theARDA.com
Measurements of a respondent's level of acceptance or condemnation of contact with those from a different religious of ideological persuasion.  These can be measured by asking about different contexts or scenarios. View related items in the Measurement Wizard: View related items in Measurement Wizard Scales:
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
V129 - 2005 World Values Survey 2001 International Religious Freedom Data RC_2 - Panel Study of American Religion and Ethnicity LibMslm - 2008 General Social Survey Q50 - 2005 Baylor Religion Survey
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This refers to religious self-identification (Smith, 1998:233). One ongoing discussion within the sociology of religion is how to categorize religious individuals. In the past researchers have created categories, then placed individuals into them by religious affiliation or certain religious beliefs. For example, to categorize individuals as Evangelical Protestants researchers could use their religious denomination (e.g., Southern Baptist) or certain beliefs commonly attributed to Evangelicals (e.g., individuals must be "born-again" to receive salvation). However, religious identity is now being used as another way to categorize individuals, relying entirely on respondents to place themselves within a certain category. A strength of this specific categorization technique is that it ensures the individual sees the classification as appropriate, rather than just being placed there by a researcher according to a predefined typology.  There are some drawbacks to this technique, however, such as the diffuse and often political nature of certain religious terms such as "evangelical" or "fundamentalist." View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
This measure approximates the extent to which respondents' religious beliefs about salvation are inclusive or exclusive of those unlike them. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
Several files in the ARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Q25 - 2005 Baylor Religion Survey
Saved - 2004 America's Evangelicals Survey
OnlyHope - 2000 Lilly Survey of Attitudes and Social Networks
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These questions measure how literally respondents read the Bible or other sacred scriptures.  It is debatable whether this measure taps more of a belief or an identity.  Although certainly some of both, the latter seems to be more important, as "literalists" from different interpretive communities may disagree on which parts of the Bible are to be taken literally. What is clear is that this question taps a dimension of religion important for understanding other aspects of religiosity, political attitudes, and views about moral authority more generally.  Accordingly this measure has become a standard control, along with service attendance and religious tradition.  It is also used as an indicator of fundamentalism.  Although some believers claim that belief in Biblical "inerrancy" is different, this too is typically taken to mean "literalism." Measures typically include three or four response options.  Researchers sometimes employ these as ordinal categories, while others utilize them as nominal categories. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
Images of God are typically measured using a battery of questions inquiring about the traits that respondents attribute to God.  Typically these descriptions fall out along underlying dimensions, especially the following: level of engagement or distance from the world, wrath or anger, and love.  These dimensions, as well specific combinations of these dimensions, have been found to have a substantial relationship with political and moral ideology. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:

View related items in Measurement Wizard Scales:

These variables can be used to explore whether or not respondents believe in a literal creation story or if creation should be taught in schools and whether they accept versions of evolutionary theory presented by contemporary science. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:     Examples  
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
EVOLVED - 2008 General Social Survey Humans - 2005 Religion and Public Life Survey Creation - 2005 Religion and Public Life Survey GODUSEEV - 2007-2008 National Survey of Youth and Religion (similar measures available in previous waves) Q10C - U.S. Religious Landscape Survey SCHEVOL - Religion and Public Life Survey (related questions available in same survey) CREATION - 1986 Tulsa, Oklahoma Area Survey Search the ARDA for similar measures.
This classifies people into those who do not believe in the existence of God and those who don't believe humans can know whether there is a God or not, respectively. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
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