Sunday, October 4, 2020

Adolescents with stronger religiosity earn better grades, are less truant in secondary school, and complete more years of higher education, [but] conservative Protestants are among the least educated religious groups

Religion and Academic Achievement: A Research Review Spanning Secondary School and Higher Education. Ilana M. Horwitz. Review of Religious Research, Oct 4 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Profound socio-economic disparities that exist among American religious groups are largely driven by the quantity and quality of education they receive. Furthermore, given the U.S. schooling system is rooted in Protestant ideals, it is possible that students with Protestant commitments have an academic advantage. This article synthesizes literature on how adolescents’ religious commitment and background are associated with their short- and long-term academic outcomes. A literature search identified 42 relevant studies published in 1990-present. These studies were reviewed to identify: (1) the mechanisms through which religion affects educational outcomes—moral, social, and cultural; (2) the main operationalized measures of religion—religious tradition and individual religiosity; and (3) the most frequent academic outcomes studied—secondary school grades, truancy, test scores, educational aspirations, and educational attainment. Of the 42 studies, 95% were based exclusively on quantitative survey data, 95% examined only religiosity or religious tradition, and 66% focused on educational attainment. There were three major findings. First, research has advanced from correlational studies to methodologically rigorous designs suggesting religion can play a causal role in academic success. Second, research reveals a religiosity-religious tradition paradox: Adolescents with stronger religiosity earn better grades, are less truant in secondary school, and complete more years of higher education. A large proportion of highly religious adolescents are likely to be conservative Protestants, but the research on religious tradition suggests that conservative Protestants are among the least educated religious groups. Third, it is unclear if religious adolescents only fare better on academic outcomes that reward their personality, such as grades, or whether they also perform better on more objective measures, such as standardized tests. This systematic review reveals a paradoxical “effect” of academic achievement and religiosity versus-religious tradition. The overall results indicate the need to: (a) identify the interaction between religious tradition and religiosity, (b) distinguish between subjective versus objective academic outcomes; (c) examine heterogeneity among non-religious adolescents; (d) study the interplay between institutional schooling and institutional religion; (e) investigate the religion/cultural match between teachers and students; (f) pursue qualitative research to better understand mechanisms; and (g) expand research about non-Christians.

“And the Male Is Not like the Female”: Sunni Islam and Gender Nonconformity

“And the Male Is Not like the Female”: Sunni Islam and Gender Nonconformity (Part I). Mobeen Vaid. Muslim Matters, Jul 24.

VI. Conclusions Concerning Gender Nonconformity in Sunni Islam

On the basis of the above discussion, we can make a number of normative assertions concerning Sunni Islam’s position on gender nonconformity:

Gender is of two discrete types: male and female.

Gender is normatively presumed on the basis of unambiguous biological constitution.

In the event of physiological ambiguities, either on account of hermaphroditism or genital agenesis, the Sharīʿa provides methods by which gender can be established. Should these methods fail, a minority of scholars permit the ambiguous individual to make a non-revocable gender selection, after which he or she is treated in accord with the gender chosen, while the majority continue regarding the individual as “ambiguous” (mushkil) and consider marriage impermissible for such a person.

Mannish behavior (for women) and effeminate behavior (for men) are impermissible if taken on deliberately. If, however, effeminate behavior manifests in a male dispositionally (khilqatan)—hence lying outside of his conscious control—then those (unelected) mannerisms are not deemed sinful. The effeminate male (mukhannath) is required, by some jurists, to attenuate to the extent possible those traits—such as gait, voice, and other mannerisms—that may be liable to correction through conscious habituation.

If male effeminacy is paired with an absence of sexual desire for women, then the effeminate male is permitted to remain in the private company of marriageable non-maḥram women (ajnabiyyāt) according to the majority of scholars. This permission is contingent on the effeminate male upholding the confidentiality of the women in question, not divulging the specifics of their physique to unrelated men.

Aside from the specific permission to enter into the company of non-maḥram women, a constitutionally effeminate male (al-mukhannath al-khilqī) is regarded and treated as a man in all other respects, subject to the same Sharīʿa rulings that would apply to any other male. Accordingly, he may lead prayer, testify and bear witness as a man, and marry a woman if he so desires. Conversely, he is required to refrain from liwāṭ (sodomy) and other forbidden sexual acts, even if his lack of desire for women is accompanied by a persistent inclination towards men.

It is categorically impermissible for either a male or a female to dress in a manner that conclusively imitates the opposite sex. If men and women in a given culture dress in ways that are indistinguishable, then men must at least abstain from veiling and from covering in other ways that are specific to women.

In light of the normative Islamic categories, prescriptions, and proscriptions examined above, Part II of this study will consider contemporary discourses surrounding the issue of gender identity (in comparison to biological sex), gender roles, and transgenderism with a focus on the multifarious ways in which modern discourses surrounding these topics can or cannot be accommodated given the legal, ethical, and moral boundaries established by the Sharīʿa.

Latent genetic traits explain a nontrivial amount of variance in two news use motives (surveillance & entertainment), as well as frequency of consumption across news sources, mainly ideological ones (Fox News & CNN)

Exploring Genetic Contributions to News Use Motives and Frequency of News Consumption: A Study of Identical and Fraternal Twins. Chance York & Paul Haridakis. Mass Communication and Society, May 27 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Prior research conducted within the Uses and Gratifications paradigm has considered the contribution of numerous background social and psychological characteristics to motives for media use and media consumption patterns. In this study, we explore the extent to which far more fundamental characteristics—genes—explain, in part, motives to use news media and frequency of news use. Utilizing original data collected on identical and fraternal twins (n = 334), we find that latent genetic traits explain a nontrivial amount of variance in two unique news use motives, surveillance and entertainment, as well as frequency of consumption across multiple news sources. Genetic traits were particularly influential in explaining the frequency of using sources commonly characterized as ideological, such as Fox News and CNN.