Religiosity, Gender and Political Participation in Rural Areas of Imo State, Nigeria

By Winifred Kanu and Christopher Chijioke Ugwu.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies

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That there is a connection between religion and politics in Nigeria is no longer contentious. However, what is unclear is the nature and direction of this relationship about the political behaviours of individuals in Nigeria. As uncertain as this relationship is in Nigeria, the impact of religiosity on political participation has so far received little attention; consequently, research in this direction is very minimal. Previous studies on the relationship between religiosity and political participation were mostly done outside Nigeria and in culturally diverse settings. Moreover, the studies showed discrepancies in their findings. Furthermore, researchers have conducted very few of these studies in Nigeria. Understanding this impact is pertinent, especially in a democratic and culturally similar setting like rural areas of Nigeria, where the majority of the people live. This study, therefore, examined the impact of religiosity on political participation in rural communities of Imo State, with particular reference to the Christian religion. It also investigated how the impact varied by gender, among others. The researchers hypothesized that: religiosity has an impact on the political participation of rural dwellers; and that the impact varies significantly by gender. Weber’s thesis on Religion formed the theoretical framework for the study. The researchers collected the data through questionnaire and in-depth interview. The indicators of religiosity were a belief in God, the frequency of participation in church activities, commitment to religious rites/principles. Both conventional and unconventional forms of political participation were measured. The indicators of conventional political participation were registration to vote, voting, attendance of political meetings, involvement in campaigns, competing for positions, membership of a political party, writing and making political speech, writing or signing petitions. The indicators of unconventional political participation were involvement in thuggery, snatching of ballot box, protests, rioting and manipulation of voters’ cards. Persons from eighteen years and above formed the target population, and the sample size was 327 respondents. Analytical techniques included both descriptive and inferential statistical tools. The researchers found, among others, that religiosity strongly predicted political participation of rural dwellers as persons found to be active in religious activities was not active in political activities. The Researchers recommended among others that; religious leaders and groups should educate their members on the importance of participating actively in the political system.

Keywords: Religiosity, Gender, Political Participation, Rural Areas

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies, Volume 12, Issue 3, September 2017, pp.19-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 749.811KB).

Dr. Winifred Kanu

Lecturer, Sociology Department, Imo State University, Owerri, Imo, Nigeria

Dr. Christopher Chijioke Ugwu

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Imo State University, Owerri, Imo, Nigeria