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Sociology and Criminology & Law

Cory Lowe

Degrees and Institutions:

  • Georgia Southern University, M.A. Social Sciences, 2015
  • Shorter University, B.S. History and Political Science, 2011
  • Georgia Highlands College, A.A. Political Science, 2010

Research and Teaching Interests:

  • Communities and Crime
  • Criminological Theory
  • Prevention of Antisocial Behaviors
  • Religion and Antisocial Behavior
  • Drugs and Society
  • Research Methods

Dissertation Title: Moral Communities in Chicago: Examining the Relationship between Family and Community Religious Contexts and Youth Substance Use and Delinquency

Abstract: Several studies show that religious youth are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviors such as substance use and delinquency; however, fewer studies have examined the influence of religious family and community contexts on these behaviors. The prevailing focus on individual religiosity contrasts with the work of Durkheim and Stark who attribute the influence of religion to its super-individual nature. Durkheim argued that religion influences behavior to the extent that individuals are integrated into religious groups and exposed to their normative demands, while Stark’s moral communities hypothesis suggests that individual religiosity influences behavior but only when it is ratified by macro-level religious contexts. Moreover, the antiascetic hypothesis suggests that, since many serious offenses are condemned by both secular and religious norms, religion will have a greater influence on less serious offenses such as substance use and status offenses than on violent and property offenses. This dissertation unifies, extends, and applies these theoretical perspectives to youths, hypothesizing that: (1) youths who are embedded in religious family contexts are less likely to engage in substance use and delinquency, (2) the influence of family religiosity will be stronger in neighborhoods with greater neighborhood-level religiosity, and (3) family and community religious contexts will have a stronger relationship with ascetic behaviors such as drug offenses and status offenses than with more widely condemned acts such as property and violent offenses. This dissertation examines these hypotheses using multilevel regression to analyze data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhood, a project designed to examine the influence of family and community contexts on youth development. Given the role and prevalence of religiosity and religious institutions in America, this research has important implications for policy, practice, and theory.