Ties That Bind or Tearing the Social Fabric? : The Integrating and Disintegrating Power of Religion in South Korea
This study is based on quantitative research utilizing the 2008 and 2012 Korea General Social Survey (KGSS, sample size 1,508) and data from the Korea Social Science Data Archive (KOSSDA, sample sizes 1302 , 7254 ). Findings indicate that patterns of closed community spirit, such as “fundamentalist thought” and “white supremacy,” exert a negative influence on social integration. However, patterns of “religious pluralism” and “individual spiritual experience” are strongly associated with religious openness and exert a positive influence on social integration. Liberal churches, openness-citizenship and active participation in civil society also hypothetically exert a positive influence on social integration. In sum, important issues surrounding religion and social integration center not only on understanding dogma in religion, but also the need to create transcendental principles based on “integrative values” (Bellah) that go beyond individual religious institutions and exist in within whole meaning systems. This research offers a foundation for further exploration into the many complex factors impacting social integration and how they interact in the context of civil society.