Gender Differences in American Jewish Identity: Testing the Power Control Theory Explanation

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This paper addresses discrepancies in previous research about whether there are gender differences in Jewish identity. Four factors of Jewish identity are examined: multifaceted Jewish engagement, social Jewish identity, communal religious identity, and cultural Jewish identity. Using the 2011 New York Jewish Community Survey, gender differences in Jewish identity in seven denominational groups of American Jews are examined. The power control theory (PCT) is tested as an explanation for the gender differences, and found to be lacking. Measures of power imbalance in current family situations are used, in addition to measures related to socialization; the rationale for this variation is discussed. According to PCT, the Orthodox would exhibit greater gender differences in Jewish identity, but the opposite is true: significant gender differences are found for non-Orthodox denominations more than are found for the Orthodox. Being raised Orthodox does not contribute to the gender differences. Measures of power imbalance within families do not contribute to the explanation of variance in any of the Jewish identity factors. Possible generalization of the findings is discussed, as well as directions for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-431
Number of pages25
JournalReview of Religious Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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