Religion and Well-being: A discourse analysis focusing upon how people account for their relationship with religion in terms of well-being.
Kerr 2011 MA.doc (283.5Kb)
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Abstract: The aim of this study was to further investigate the relationship between religion and well-being using discourse analysis. Most of the previous literature on this topic is in the form of quantitative self report questionnaires. These studies often use different definitions and criteria for religiosity, shifting in their emphasis between behaviours and beliefs, such as church attendance and personal prayer. Many different aspects of well-being have also been examined, including physical health, stress, life satisfaction and mental health. Due to the scope of definitions of religion and the range of well-being aspects looked at, there was some conflict between findings. It seemed logical to undertake a qualitative study using a semi-structured interview in order to better understand the mechanisms behind this relationship and allow participants to tell us their thoughts in their own words. By looking into the constructions and techniques used by participants we might better understand how people respond to such questions. In the first part of the interview we addressed the participants’ religiosity, their practices, beliefs and background. In the second part we addressed the relationship between religion and well-being in terms of social support, life crises, consolation of prayer and life purpose. There were twelve participants and interviews lasted between ten and forty minutes. Participants showed some interesting patterns in how they approached questions on religiosity and its relationship with well-being. A disparity involving the social support of the church arose between the older and younger participants. Overall, this study adds some interesting insight into how research into this subject area may be approached by people and highlights some new areas to be taken into consideration in the future.