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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The supply-side approach to understanding religious participation is perhaps one of the more influential ideas of the religious economies model. The term “supply side” was first applied by R. Stephen Warner to Roger Finke and Rodney Stark's analyses found in the Churching of America (1992). In that book, Finke and Stark suggest that most previous historical and sociological explanations of changing religious participation rates over time and across national and geographic settings had been based on notions of changing levels of demand for religion, theories which have since been labeled demand-side theories. This article describes some of the data limitations that make it difficult to distinguish the separate influences of supply and demand in real life analyses of religious participation rates. It then presents a method which, when applied to common geographically based data sets, can be used to construct measures of demand that are independent of measures of the supply of religion. The article summarizes the results of the 2000 Religious Congregations and Church Membership Study (RCMS) and presents U.S. county-level census data from 2000.

Keywords: supply and demand, religious participation, demand for religion, demand-side theories, RCMS, Roger Finke, Rodney Stark

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