Religion and Identity
Steward Harrison Oppong

This essay explores the link between religion and identity from three viewpoints, namely: religion as an expression of deep sense of unity and its linkage with identity formation especially in the context of Durkheim’s insight; the link between religion and ethnicity in terms of forging identity formation and the link between religion and identity formation especially with reference to youth’s religiousness and search for identity. Evidence regarding the relationship between identity and religion in the existing literature is limited. But, evidence from few studies suggests that religion is positively correlated with identity formation. This implies that religiosity is found to be relevant in explaining commitment and purposefulness in terms of identity formation. It is more likely that the strength of the relationship between religion and identity vary across different demographic groups as well as different epochs. For instance, the strength of the linkage between religion and identity is more likely to be stronger for younger individuals compared to mature adults. Similarly, religion as an important determinant of identity formation is more likely to be forceful and more binding in olden days compared to modern era. Overall, religion tends to be a key determinant of identity formation depending on circumstances, the groups covered and the period covered in the analysis.

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