The intergenerational transmission of churchgoing in England and Australia

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2012


The family is an important setting for the transmission of values and traditions, and parents have a significant influence on the religious involvement of their children. The family typically provides an initial religious identity and introduces children to religious beliefs, practices and a network of adherents. For both scholars and practitioners, the question of how religion does or does not come to be passed on in families is of crucial importance. In this study we use data from the 2001 International Congregational Life Survey to examine church attendance across three generations in England and Australia. In both England and Australia there is a strong tendency for couples to attend church together; they are making joint decisions and, when churchgoing is favored, encouraging each other in religious practice. The impact of two churchgoing parents on their children is considerably stronger than that of one alone. Our analysis shows that not only parental but also grandparental religious activity has a significant effect. While much of their influence simply results from the upbringing they gave their own children, a substantial proportion of it seems likely to be a direct, unmediated effect on grandchildren.

Published in

Review of Religious Research

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 53 , p.377 -395






Not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only



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