Thursday, February 23, 2017

Amy Adamczyk's "Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality"

Amy Adamczyk is Professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Programs of Doctoral Study in Sociology and Criminal Justice at The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes across the Globe, and reported the following:
Public opinion about homosexuality varies substantially across the world. While in some countries, like Saudi Arabia, individuals can be killed for having a same-sex relationship, in other places like, the Netherlands, gay rights have been embraced as human rights. Why are there such big differences in how people across the world view this issue? This is the issue that I sought to examine in Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality.

My research drew on survey data from almost ninety societies, case studies of various countries, content analysis of newspaper articles, and in-depth interviews to examine how country and individual characteristics influence acceptance of homosexuality. I found that many of the same individual-level factors that are important for shaping attitudes within nations like the United States are also important in other countries. Hence, across the world on average older people tend to be less tolerant of homosexuality than younger ones. Likewise, on average more religious people are less accepting than less religious individuals.

Aside from individual characteristics I wanted to see whether there was anything in the larger culture that shaped attitudes over and above individual characteristics. I found that there was. Specifically, using public opinion data from the World Values Surveys, I found that more democratic, richer, and less religious nations tended to have more supportive residents. The interesting thing about these three factors is that they had an effect on the attitudes of everyone living in the country. Hence, regardless of how religious a resident was, if he or she lived in a nation where a high proportion of people thought religion was important, the individual was more disapproving. Likewise, regardless of how rich or poor an individual was, if he or she lived in a country where residents on average had high incomes the person tended to be more tolerant. These findings provide insight into why people across the world vary so substantially in how they view homosexuality.

On the 99th page of Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality I am explaining why people living in mainline Protestant nations, almost all of which are located in Europe, have more liberal residents than those living in nations that include a mixture of mainline and conservative Protestant Christians. This page is representative of the book as I try to make the argument that the national culture, in this case the religious context, can shape individuals’ attitudes.
Visit Amy Adamczyk's website.

--Marshal Zeringue