by Don Weenink
Conservative Protestant rural youth are more often involved in violent crimes than their counterparts in urban areas, who also use less violence than average. The relationship between alcohol use and violence is also stronger among rural youth and among conservative Protestant rural youth in particular. These are the conclusions of sociologist Don Weenink in his article entitled ‘Taking the Conservative Protestant thesis across the Atlantic’ that was published in theBritish Journal of Criminology. Weenink carried out his research with a Veni grant.
Weenink’s research is the first large-scale study into violence, alcohol and religious background in Europe, in which rural and urban areas are compared. Weenink used data from 8000 Dutch young people in the age range 15 to 30 years.
Previous research has shown that in the southern, mainly rural, regions of the United States there was a close relationship between conservative Protestantism and violence. In the Netherlands, however, it transpired that conservative Protestant youth living in villages commit violent acts more often than their counterparts in urban areas – urban conservative Protestant youth stated that they use far less violence than average. The relationship between violence and this religion is therefore dependent on the social context. In general, rural youth and young people in urban areas differ little from each other with respect to the use of violence. Weenink: ‘Contrary to what many people think, the Dutch countryside is not always that idyllic’.
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