Detroit Area Study, 1958: The Religious Factor

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The Detroit Area Study (DAS) was established at the University of Michigan in 1951 primarily to provide practical social research training for graduate students. In addition, the Detroit Area Study was intended to serve as a resource for basic research and to provide reliable data on the Greater Detroit community. Surveys have been conducted annually since 1951-52 on a variety of subjects. The specific problems that DAS investigates each year are selected by the DAS Executive Committee after reviewing research proposals submitted by interested faculty members.

The 1958 Detroit Area Study, “Religion in the Metropolitan Community”, consists of 656 respondents in the Detroit metropolitan area. This survey provides information on their religious attitudes and activities, as well as their economic and political attitudes and behavior. Respondents were asked about their belief in God and in life after death, the effects of their religious beliefs on their political beliefs, and the kinds of issues religious leaders should take a public stand on. Several questions probed respondents' views of other religious groups, as well as their attitudes on such issues as gambling, birth control, and the use of alcohol. Other topics covered include: information about respondents' economic behaviors such as saving and purchases on installment plans, respondents' opinions of government take-over of large industries and greater involvement in education and housing, respondents' attitudes toward income-earning work, science, degree of free speech, and racial equity, inter-group images, family and child-rearing patterns, welfare legislation, civil liberties, international relations, legislation on moral issues, doctrinal orthodoxy, devotionalism, and the effects of religion on politics as well as on daily life. Demographic variables specify age, sex, race, education, place of birth, marital status, number of children, length of time at present residence, religion, political party affiliation, income, occupation, original nationality of husband's and wife's family, home ownership, social class identification, and length of residence in the Detroit area.

Data File
Cases: 656
Variables: 424
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 1957-1958
Funded By
University of Michigan
Collection Procedures
Personal interviews.
Sampling Procedures
The 1958 study employed an area-probability sample of metropolitan Detroit adults. The sample comprised the sections of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties that are divided into census tracts by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The area covered represents approximately 87 percent of the total population of the three-county Detroit Standard Metropolitan Area. The nontracted area was not included in the sample because of the higher cost of securing interviews in this area relative to areas closer to Detroit. The response rate was 85 percent. For the chosen area, the coverage rate was estimated at 97 percent. The Detroit area was divided into primary sampling units (PSUs) so that the area to be sampled was exhausted and each PSU was unambiguously defined. To achieve a probability sample, investigators estimated each PSUs population based on estimates provided by the Detroit Metropolitan Regional Planning Commission. Sample addresses were selected from a City Directory within the boundaries of the sampling area.
Principal Investigators
Gerhard Lenski
Related Publications
Lenski, Gerhard E. 1961. The Religious Factor. New York: Doubleday.

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