Date of Award

1-12-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Daniel Alex Heckert, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Thomas C. Nowak, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kay A. Snyder, Ph.D.

Abstract

The concept of political tolerance is crucial for the existence of democratic societies. Although researchers have made important contributions, the available literature can be improved, primarily by using more complex measures of religiosity, such as those used when examining the association between religiosity and prejudice. This study examined the effect of demographic variables and religious-based variables on the political tolerance of two heterogeneous Jewish populations in Israel and in the United States. The demographic variables are: income, education, size of community, rural/non-rural, age, and gender, and the religious-based variables are: level of religiosity, intrinsic/extrinsic religious orientation, religious fundamentalism, attitudes toward religions beliefs, religious quest, and social dominance orientation (SDO). Based on the causal model I developed, twelve hypotheses were developed to test the model. In summary, the results of the multivariate analysis show that while the independent variables of quest and SDO are not associated with political tolerance for both the Israeli and the U.S. samples, religious beliefs, intrinsic/extrinsic, and fundamentalism were partially associated with the dependent variable only for the U.S. sample. A negligible association was found between political tolerance and level of religiosity, gender, intrinsic/extrinsic, and fundamentalism for the Israeli sample. An interesting finding was that for the U.S. sample, intrinsic/extrinsic orientation was associated with political tolerance toward radical Christians, while religiosity was associated with political tolerance toward Muslims only for the Israeli sample. The inconsistency in the direction and power of the associations in this study compared with previous studies may be a result of the demographics of the participants. The fact that so many hypotheses were rejected is possible evidence for how much political tolerance is a culturally-based and context-related phenomenon.

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