Class and Religion: Church Attendance in Soweto

By Dieketseng Motseke and Sibongile Mazibuko.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Class contributes to shaping and distinguishing people’s religious denominations and their social situation. This paper seeks to determine the link between class and religion pertaining to church attendance in Soweto. The data used for this study was a combination of quantitative data obtained from a survey conducted in 2006: Classifying Soweto Survey (CSS) and follow up in-depth interviews and participant observation. The findings of this study reveal that various classes use the church for different reasons and that the size of the congregation, education levels, the leadership hierarchy, church contributions, tithing and the language in which sermons are conducted, are some of the key features through which class is expressed in the church. It was also found that there is a clear muteness surrounding class inside the church.

Keywords: Religion, Class, Church, Pentecostalism, Spirituality

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.179-194. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 793.615KB).

Dieketseng Motseke

Researcher, Classifying Soweto Project, South African Research Chair in Social Change, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Dieketseng Motseke (Better known as Keke), graduated with her Masters in Industrial Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, formerly known as Rand Afrikaans Universiteit, in 2008. During this time, she was working at Statistics South Africa, the official statistical agency of the country. This Master’s thesis was published as a book in 2010, entitled: Call Centre Agents and Class Identity: a Johannesburg Case Study, by Lambert Academic Publishing. In November of 2010, after five years at Stats SA; she returned to the University Of Johannesburg as a researcher for the South African Research Chair in Social Change (Prof. Peter Alexander) to pay more attention to the developments around class and identity. She is currently conducting studies involving religion and its impact on class and identity.

Sibongile Mazibuko

Assistant Director, International Trade and Economic Division (ITED, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), University of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

I have a junior degree in Political Studies (RAU), an Honours in Development Studies (RAU) and a Masters by full dissertation in Public Governance (University of Johannesburg). I worked for the South African Research Chair in Social Change as a supervisor for the Classifying of Soweto Project 2006 and in 2008 as a researcher (on religion and economic analysis projects). I am currently working at the dti, Chief Directorate: Africa Bilateral-to contribute to the economic development of the Southern Africa region as a whole in line with NEPAD objectives, coordinate and facilitate technical and fact missions to countries in the continent and ensuring the establishment and maintenance of South Africa’s economic relations with countries in the region.