The landscape of youth religious participation is an underengaged area across both the humanities and social science. While the humanities lack empirical data on the changing religious life worlds of youths, existing empirical work in the social sciences suggests that institutional religion buffers criminality and delinquency— a brand of engagement the authors refer to as “buffering transgression.” This is a process that both conceives and privileges religion as an institutional and a moral force responsible for creating prosocial behavior. While empirical studies on youths and religion keep religion arrested to institutional and moral functions, scholars in the humanities work hard to legitimate youth cultural forms, such as hip hop, by conflating its rugged dimensions with a quest (and hope) for democratic sensibilities—a motif the authors suggest is rooted in ideologies of teleological progress. Using the tropes progress, peril, and change, this article explores the utility (and limitations) of empirical work and the often misguided efforts to moralize religion. Here the authors raise queries regarding youth cultural change and religion and quantitatively model youth religious change over 16 years. The implications of these theoretical and empirical interventions point toward future work at the social scientific intersections of religion in culture.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ezekiel_dixon-roman/3/