Social Sources of the Spirit: Connecting Rational Choice and Interactive Ritual Theories in the Study of Religion

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In recent years rational choice approaches have increasingly been employed in the sociological study of religion; however, theory and research from this perspective typically overlook the role of emotionally efficacious collective rituals. This study synthesizes interactive ritual theory with the rational choice concept of strictness, which highlights the level of behavioral prohibitions religious groups place on adherents. Analyses of data from the first wave of the National Congregations Study indicate a positive relationship between a group's level of behavioral strictness and the production of an enthusiastic, outwardly emotive worship style. In general, the effort is made to highlight the utility of combining a focus on the production of collective, social "goods" in religious groups with considerations of interactive rituals and emotion.