Saving America? Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society

By Robert Wuthnow | Go to book overview

METHODOLOGICAL NOTE

The research for this book began in 1995 and took specific shape in 2000 but was heavily influenced by a line of scholarly inquiry I began in the late 1980s. In the earlier work that was published in 1991 (Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves) and in 1995 (Learning to Care: Elementary Kindness in an Age of Indifference) I combined national survey data and information from in-depth qualitative interviews to examine the motives, values, and self-understandings of volunteer caregivers. In 1995 I initiated a research project that resulted in my 1998 book Loose Connections: Joining Together in America's Fragmented Communities. That book also combined national survey data and in-depth qualitative interviews. The interviews were conducted among directors and staff of service agencies as well as among volunteers and among people who did no volunteer work in their communities. Some of these interviews were conducted among the kinds of religiously sponsored or religiously initiated organizations that subsequently came to be called “faith-based service agencies.” This of course was prior to the welfare reform legislation of 1996 that included the Charitable Choice provision through which such organizations could more easily receive government funding. With the ensuing debate about faith-based service organizations, I decided to stay in contact with some of the service agencies I had studied in the Lehigh Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania. I was also subsequently able to conduct several national surveys.

I have described the surveys in the chapters and in notes to the chapters at the points where I draw information from them. The main surveys from which I draw information are the Civic Involvement Survey, conducted in 1997; the Arts and Religion Survey, conducted in 1999; the Religion and Politics Survey, conducted in 2000; and the Small Groups Survey,

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Saving America? Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: Why “faith-Based”? Why Now? 1
  • 2: Congregation-Based Social Services 25
  • 3: Congregations as Caring Communities 64
  • 4: Religion and Volunteering 99
  • 5: Faith-Based Service Organizations 138
  • 6: The Recipients of Social Services 176
  • 7: Promoting Social Trust 217
  • 8: Experiencing Unlimited Love? 256
  • 9: Public Policy and Civil Society 286
  • Methodological Note 311
  • Notes 315
  • Select Bibliography 333
  • Index 349
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