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This study examined the Relationship between  Socio-Economic Status and Dimensions of Religiosity among Students of Tertiary Institutions in Lagos State. In this study, relevant and extensive literatures were reviewed in sub-titles. The literature surveyed and explored the works of scholars, researchers and religionists that are in line with the topic of this research. The descriptive research survey was adopted in this study in order to assess the opinions of the selected respondents, with the application of the research questionnaires which were used to collect necessary information from the samples, and the sampling technique was applied in order to select the appropriate samples of this study. Three hundred (300) respondents, made up of 150 males and 150 females were selected from University of Lagos and Lagos State University. Also, 4 null hypotheses were generated and tested accordingly, with the application of the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) in testing hypothesis one, while the independent t-test statistical tool, was used in testing hypothesis two, three and four respectively, at the alpha level of 0.05. At the end of the data analyses, the results that were obtained, showed that:

(1)        Hypothesis one found that there is a significant relationship between socio-economic status of students and their commitment to religion (P < 0.05; df = 2 and 297; F-cal =; 40.10, F-tab = 3.11). (2)        Hypothesis two revealed that there is a significant impact of religiousity on student socio-economic status (P < 0.05; df = 298; t-cal = 4.61; t-tab = 1.96). (3)        Hypothesis three indicated that there is a significant difference between the religious commitment of students from the high socio-economic status homes and those from the low socio-economic status homes (P < 0.05; df = 298; t-cal = 3.64; t-tab = 1.96). (4)        Hypothesis four showed that there is no significant gender difference in the religious commitment of students due to socio-economic status (P > 0.05; df = 298; t-cal = 0.71; t-tab = 1.96).

(1)               Based on the above findings, the following recommendations were made: It is recommended that parents should endeavour to bring up their children in Christian religious way, because, when parents train their children well, they (children), would be able to imbibe the good religious culture which their parents have bequeathed to them. This is because, it has been found that the genesis of students’ non-religious commitment at adolescent age, is because, parents did not teach their children the ways of God at the early stage. So, parents should teach their children how to commit themselves to the things of God when they are very young and they would not depart from it even when they grow up. It is also recommended that religious studies should be made a compulsory course in all the tertiary institutions. Whether a student is arts inclined or science-inclined, he/she should be made to offer religion as a compulsory course. The course should be named “religious and moral instruction”, which should be aimed at imbibing and inculcating religious ethos in the life of the students. If this is done, it will help in curbing immoral and delinquent behaviours that are inherent in most of our youths of school-ages in Nigeria. It is equally recommended that lecturers in the institutions under review, should ensure that they exhibit characters and moral rectitude worthy of emulation by their students on campus. This is because teachers are surrogate parents of children, as well as great models for students.



1.1       Introduction

Social inequality is a fundamental characteristic of the society. Rich or poor; advantaged or disadvantaged; privileged or underpreviledged: each contrast speaks to differences among people that are consequential for the lives they lead. Whether in describing patterns of inequality or examining the consequences of inequality, the results depend upon how inequality is conceptualized and measured. Socio-economic status is among the most prominent concepts in inequality research. The term “socioeconomic status” refers to the relative hierarchical placement of a unit (such as an individual, a community) along a gradient stratified by social and economic resources (Adler, 2003).

The sociologist, Marx Weber (1958,) conceptualized inequality along three related tracks – class, status and party. Each was understood as a basis for power and influence. Whereas, class focused on economic resources, and party referred to political clout, status was understood as honour and prestige. For Weber, status groups were hierarchically arrayed on the basis of distinctive lifestyles, consumption patterns and modes of conduct or action.

Religion is defined by Kenny (2004) as “belief in the existence of a supernatural ruling power, the creator and controller of the universe, who has given to man a spiritual nature which continues to exist after the death of the body”. On the other hand, Arnolds and Adams (2000) have defined religion giving their backgrounds and sources of information. These varied views on religion maintain a Constance; that religion, is the belief in spiritual beings. The term ‘religion’, whatever its definition, refers to certain characteristic types of data namely: beliefs, practices, feelings, moods and attitudes (Nyoyoko and Owete, 2000).

Friedrick (2000), defined religion as “feeling of absolute dependence, absolute as contrasted to other relative feelings of dependence”. Religion can also be defined as human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual or divine. Religion is commonly regarded as consisting of a person’s relation to God or to gods or spirits.

In a given society, religion as a social institution, plays a prominent role in the lives of individuals or faithfuls. Also, in every religion, be it Christianity, Islam or African religion, individuals are stratified into high or low socioeconomic status. Individuals are placed according to their socioeconomic class in any society. Religion as an integral part of the society, is always in contact with the society, and always in contact with these socioeconomic classes (Nzeribe, 2003).

The religious commitment of students who fall within the three socioeconomic status of high, middle and low will be examined in this study in relation to or as an influence on dimensions of religious commitment of students in tertiary institutions.

1.2       Background to Study

Socioeconomic implies at least two dimensions to inequality – social and economic. Although, those two dimensions are understood as closely associated they nevertheless, incorporate two different aspects of stratification. The economic dimension is best represented by money or wealth as reflected in employment, income, home ownership, and other financial assets such as pension plans and property ownership. The social dimension incorporates education, occupational prestige, authority, and community standing (Blau, 1991). The very earliest measures of socio-economic status is relied on community reputation. A family’s social standing as judged by others was used to differentiate between upper, middle and lower classes. Although, the term ‘class’ was used, this was the usage that understood classes as loose aggregates of families who shared similar social and economic traits. However, this early measurement tradition rested mainly in community studies. As social scientists started to focus more on entire societies, a different measurement technique was essential (Kings, 1994).

Socio-economic status has been shown to be significantly, consistently and universally correlated with a variety of measures of life chances (such as occupational attainment) and life styles (ideological learnings, and mode of memberships). Similarly, education is an important socio-economic status (SES) measure; again correlated with many diverse outcomes, but its precise role is often unclear – is it the cognitive dimension, the credential or the network of contacts dimension? (Allen, 1999).

According Madubuike (2004), worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief and participation in the religious institutions are generally also constituent elements of religions and scriptures. All religions closely examined, reveal six main dimensions of worship namely: ritual, ethical, doctrinal, experiential, social and mythical. These are ways of thinking, behaving and feeling. In other words, it may be safe to say that there is an intellectual, a moral and an experiential element in religions; or that each religion has a creed, code of ethics and a cult.

It has been observed that these days, religious faithfuls are divided into the three socio-economic classes. According to him, those who belong to the high socioeconomic class are given front seats, and in some cases, made to lead others who do not measure up to their class. From the high socio-economic class, pastors, deacons and deaconnesses and other church leaders emerge.

In another study, Ajoku (2005) observed that the children of the “haves” tend not to be religious. He was of the opinion that due to the fact that the wealthy individuals provide their children with all it takes to be comfortable both at school and outside of it, their children tend to dislike paying attention to religious matters because they think that they have virtually all things going for them and as such, they do not need to waste their time seeking help through being religious. According to Elvis (1990), the word “religious” concerns a person, or his behaviour. It deals with individuals obeying the rules and regulations of a particular religion very carefully. It means an individual person performing the stated duties (religious duties) very carefully, as a matter of conscience.

Isichei (2002) said that a religious man, especially a Christian, is a person who supposed not to belong to cultism, and other occultic societies, an individual who shuns robbery, prostitution nor takes part in any kind of vices. He or she lives a life of non-violence, right living and attitude to life and moral exhibition in the society. A person who recognises evil deeds and avoids them, but cleaves to the right attitude to life and respects human dignity and honours the spiritual dignity of his fellow man. A man or woman who observes the tenets of his or her religious beliefs by reverencing God or whatever he/she venerates wholeheartedly. Speaking the truth at all times and hating evil always. These and more are the yardsticks to determine who is actually a man of God and the one who is religious.

As Adejuwo (2001) put it, religious commitment means being religious. It means a degree of involvement and commitment to religious theory and practice. How then, do we measure or identify the religious commitment of an individual? He identified church attendance, private prayer, special beliefs, attitudes towards religion, religious experience, professional employment, religious rituals, religious affiliation, publication of religious articles, multi-dimensional measures, and so on as the yardsticks for identifying who is a committed religionist. A good index of knowing the religiosity of an individual is by identifying his/her attitude towards religion and the church. This means the extent to which an individual is favourable or unfavourable to the organisation or set of practices as judged by his verbal expressions. Attitudes refer to overt behaviour in which case, verbal measures must be validated or checked against more direct measures since attitudes invariably are assessed by verbal methods, and since attitudes are measured in this way often differ from actual behaviour, it is best to treat them independently. However, a person may be favourable to religion without either holding the belief or engaging in its practice (Abia, 2000; Bakare, 2004; and Jatau, 2005).

Nwana (2003) postulated that one of the veritable instruments of knowing who is committed in one religion or the other, is the multi-dimensional approach. According to him, this is widely accepted as an index of measuring religiosity. This is because, being religious involves general kind of behaviour and the idea that a good measure has gained popularity. Clock (2000) suggested the following dimensions: ideological, ritualistic, experiential, intellectual, and consequential dimensions. According to him, the ideological dimension covers religious activities such as prayer and worship. The ritualistic dimension refers to church attendance of various kind. Experiential dimension covers intense religious experiences such as conversion, speaking in tongues or mystical experiences. The intellectual dimension measures the knowledge of religious dogmas and practices, while the consequential dimension, deals with the effects of religiosity on conduct in other spheres.

In another development, Adedoyin and Adeleke (2004) opined that church attendance is a vital index in measuring the religiosity of an individual. They observed that church attendance is more advantageous over church membership, in that, church membership tells us little about how active a person is or what he/she achieves, but frequent church attendance tells us much more about individual’s religiosity and dimensions of religious commitment. However, there may still be individual attenders who are not really religious. The normal way to know and identify peoples religiosity and commitment is to ask them how often they attend church activities and or services.

Onyewuchi and Onyewuchi (2006) stated that churches these days are full of the down-trodden people who are from the humble backgrounds. They opined that individuals who are facing one problem or the other which could be mainly financial, practically run to the churches to pray for God’s intervention in their low income status. Anyakogu (2000) claimed that the economic hardship that has global phenomenon has obviously caused many parents to loose their jobs. Majority have remained unemployed for years, and this has further caused their children who are in schools to keenly run to one denomination or the other in order to pray for solution to their families’ problems.

On the other hand, the children of the rich may not bother to go to church, and that whenever they go to church, their attitude to prayers may differ from that of the children of the poor. While the children of the poor have deeper sense of religion and moral conscience, the children of the rich attend to religious matters with great levity and peripheral activities. Also, Adeosun and Adeoye (2002) collaborated by stating that students who come from the low socio-economic backgrounds commit themselves more to the things of God, and as such, are more religious than those from the high socio-economic backgrounds.

1.3       Theoretical Framework

(a)Marxian Theories of Religion

Karl Marx’s (1957) theory of religion arose from his primary concern about the problem of alienation of man in society. His concern had a particular reference to a capitalist society in which there were private ownership and control of the means of production and the distribution of goods and services. It was in this context that Marx propounded his theory of religion.

According to him, man is alienated in four ways. One, he is alienated from the things he himself produces by his own labour. He has no control over what he produces. Instead of what he produces serving his own needs, what he produces enslaves him. Two, man is alienated from other men by the competitive character of the economic system which is based on the ownership of private property which forces everyone to live at the expense of someone else. In particular, it divides men into classes because of irreconcilable interests. Man’s fellow citizens confront him as aggressors who seek to limit his capabilities instead of helping him to improve them.

Man is alienated from nature. Nature does not present itself to man as a field for a creative exercise of his powers. Instead nature presents itself as a source of difficulty and drudgery. Nature acts as a limitation to man’s creative powers. He is alienated from society which is an expression of collective powers. As far as political interest is possible in a capitalist society or any class of society, politics confronts man as an external and separate interest. The state interest is distinguished from private interests and it conflicts with private interests. In these ways, man is an alien in his own society.

It was in the context of man’s alienation that the German scholar, Karl Marx, saw the role of religion. He saw that there were social inequality, enslavement, unfairness, exploitation, oppression, alienation and suffering in a capitalist society. The owner of the means of production and distribution of goods and services were exploiting the workers (proletarians) and masses. Marx saw that capitalists were using religion as an instrument for furthering and perpetuating their exploitation of the masses (Marx, 1957).

Marx (1957) said that religion was being used by the capitalists to curb class consciousness, self-assertion, opposition, protest, revolt, revolution and rebellion among the workers and the masses. This was done by ensuring that the masses submitted themselves to religious doctrines. This was necessary because religion legitimatized the political and economic system. Religion offered the people a compensation for their economic deprivation in fantasies of a life after death. In this context, the masses accepted subjection willingly. In this way, religion served to ease the pain of the misery produced by the exploitative conditions of capitalism. It was in this context that Marx summed his ideas about religion in his famous statement:

“Religion is the moan of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the sense of senseless conditions. It is the opium of the people” (Marx, 1957).

(b)The Functionalist Theory of Religion

Emile Durkheim (1952) asserted that religion has a social function in society. Instead of being concerned about the origin and evolution of religion, Durkheim paid attention to the contribution religion makes to the social needs of society. He suggested that religion should be studied as a social phenomenon. He believed in the truth of religion. He asserted that, in all societies religion has a pervading, continuing and universal power. Thus, he concentrated his attention on the general significance of religious beliefs and practices to man’s social life.

Religion contributes to the maintenance of order in society. It does this by creating conditions for integration of individuals in the sense of personal adjustment and social integration in terms of its ability to provide legitimation for social arrangements. By providing a unified and unifying value system, religion contributes to the integration of the whole society and the functioning of other social institutions. Religion is described as the most general mechanism of integrating meaning and motivation in action systems. As a result, it contributes to social stability and to better adaptation of the whole social system. Religion provides conditions for cohesion, solidarity, self-discipline, well-being and continuity of culture and traditions. Religion restrains deviance and promotes loyalty. It promotes confidence and conformity to the values, norms and rules of society. Thus, Durkheim (1952) said that religion must be in some sense true in order to have such effectiveness.

1.4       Statement of Problem

The socio-economic status of an individual affects his or her life. In any society, religion plays a vital role in the lives and activities of the people. People form religious inclinations and commit themselves to religious activities in one way or the other. Due to the global economic down-turn, many people embrace God through socio-religious activities in order to find spiritual solutions to their problems, which may be mostly financial.

In many tertiary institutions today, there seems to exist the problem of lack of religious commitment among students from different socio-economic backgrounds. Several faithful of various religious sects, claim to be religious, but how many of them are committed to the core tenets or principles upheld by their religions?

According to Amaonye (2002), majority of students in Nigerian tertiary institutions, who come from low socio-economic backgrounds, tend to be more committed to religious activities than their counterparts who come from the high socio-economic status families. As he put it, due to the dwindled economic conditions of parents, their children in tertiary institutions, tend to embrace religion as the last resort in order to seek solution to their low financial problem; while the children of the rich tend not to care about religious activities or commitment due to their beliefs and trust in their parents’ wealth.

To the children of the wealthy, there seems to be no problem money cannot solve. With this perceived negative attitude, students from the high socio-economic backgrounds, tend to spend much of their time in having fun, such as going to parties; getting involved in negative peer grouping and becoming delinquents in the society and so on, rather than committing themselves to religion and its activities. For this reason, they tend to be more of nominal christians than their counterparts from the low socio-economic status homes.

The above scenario gave rise to the examination of the relationship between socio-economic status and dimensions of religious commitment among students in tertiary institutions in Lagos State.

1.5       Purpose of Study

The aims and objectives of embarking on this study include:

(1)              to find out whether socio-economic status of students affects their commitment to religion.

(2)              to compare students’ religiosity with their socio-economic backgrounds.

(3)              to examine whether the religious commitment of students from the high socio-economic homes differ from those in the low socio-economic ones.

(4)              to compare whether there is gender difference in the religious commitment of students due to socio-economic status.

(5)              to find out the dimensions of students’ commitment to religion.

1.6       Research Questions

The under mentioned questions were raised to guide this study:

(1)              Does the socio-economic status of students affect their commitment to religion activities?

(2)              How can we compare students’ religiosity with their socio-economic backgrounds?

(3)              To what extent will the religious commitment of students from the high socio-economic homes differ from those in the low socio-economic ones?

(4)              Is there gender difference in the religious commitment of students due to socio-economic status?

(5)              What are the dimensions of students’ commitment to religion?

1.7       Hypotheses

The underlisted hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study:

(1)              There will be no significant relationship between socio-economic status of students and their commitment to religion.

(2)              There will be no significant impact of students’ religiosity on their socio-economic backgrounds.

(3)              There will be no significant difference between the religious commitment of students from the high socio-economic homes and those from the low socio-economic homes.

(4)              There will be no significant gender difference in the religious commitment of students due to socio-economic status.

1.8       Significance of Study

This research work will assist in different dimensions to the issue of socio-economic status and students’ commitment to religion in tertiary institutions in Lagos State.

This study will create additional knowledge to teachers in tertiary institutions, especially at the University of Lagos, Akoka, and the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo. This is because, the recommendations and findings of this study will help them to identify students’ socio-economic status, and also, their dimensions of religious commitment. With this study, teachers (lecturers), especially those in religious studies would be able to know why some students do commit themselves to the things of religion while others do not. Lecturers in religious studies would be able to determine other factors that militate against students’ commitment to religiosity apart from socio-economic factors as a major variable in this study.

Also, the recommendations provided in this study will go a long way in assisting parents to know more about their children/wards’ level of commitment to religion. Parents, obviously, do not stay in the school with their children/wards, but the findings/recomendations provided in this study would enable them to have more information concerning the attitudes of their children/wards to religion at school.

The society is not left out in this regard, the society will definitely benefit from this study because its findings and recommendations will be insightful to the general members of the public. This is because the members of the public would be well informed concerning the impact of socio-economic variable on the dimensions of religious commitment among tertiary students.

This study will equally be a reference point for all and sundry in the school, the family and the community because it exrayed the level of commitment towards religion by students who have either rich or poor backgrounds. Also, researchers and scholars would find this study very crucial and quite revealing as it will help them to carry out their own works in related studies. The expository nature of this study will assist church leaders, especially, the clergy and parishioners, who would be in the vantage positions to know vividly, the extent of the belief system and commitments of members of their churches.

Also, researchers, educationists, religious experts and curriculum formulators in religion would find this study a reference material.

1.9       Scope of Study

The study covered the relationship between socio-economic status and dimensions of religious commitment of students towards religion. The study will be limited to the Mainland Local Government Development Area and Ojo Local Government Development Area in Lagos State. Out of 57 (fifty-seven) Local Development Areas in the State, only Mainland and Ojo were chosen, and out of many tertiary institutions in the State, two (2) tertiary institutions: the University of Lagos, Akoka and Lagos State University, Ojo were selected and examined. The reason for the selection of two Local Government Development Areas and two tertiary institutions is due to the financial and time constraints which may hinder an investigation of a larger scope of this study.

1.10    Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms were operationally defined.

Dimensions: This refers to a number indicating the fewest coordinates necessary to identify a point or geometric space. It is a number indicating a measurement of length, area and volume of something. In this study, dimension is used to measure the extent or level students believe and involved in religious activities at the tertiary institutions (Adams, 1994).

Dwindle: This means to become gradually less or smaller until almost nothing.

Religion: Religion is defined as “belief in the existence of a supernatural ruling power, the Creator and Controller of the universe, who has given man a spiritual nature which continues to exist after the death of the body”. The term “religion”, whatever its definition, refers to certain characteristic types of data namely; beliefs, practices, feelings, moods and attitudes. Religion is a feeling of absolute dependence, absolute as contrasted to the other relative feelings of dependence. It is human beings relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual or divine (Adedoyin, 2004).

Religious Commitment: This is the term used to describe the commitment and involvement of students towards religion and activities that involve religion. It is the rate at which individuals are committed to things or activities that concern religion or church activities (Bryan, 1990). 

Socio-Economic Status: In describing patterns of inequality or examining the consequences of inequality, the results depend upon how inequality is conceptualized and measured. Therefore, socio-economic status is among the most prominent concepts in inequality research. The term “socio-economic status”, refers to the relative hierarchical placement of a unit such as an individual, a community, along a gradient stratified by social and economic resources (Adler, 2003).

Tertiary Institutions: This refers to the third level of institutions of learning after the primary and secondary schools or institutions. Tertiary institution is regarded as the third in order, rank, importance etc. Tertiary education or institution refers to education or learning at the university, college of education or polytechnic levels (Friedrick, 2000).

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