Segregation in Religion Networks

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Hu, Jiantao ; Zhang, Qian-Ming ; Zhou, Tao (2018)
  • Subject: Computer Science - Social and Information Networks | Physics - Physics and Society

Religious beliefs could facilitate human cooperation [1-6], promote civic engagement [7-10], improve life satisfaction [11-13] and even boom economic development [14-16]. On the other side, some aspects of religion may lead to regional violence, intergroup conflict and moral prejudice against atheists [17-23]. Analogous to the separation of races [24], the religious segregation is a major ingredient resulting in increasing alienation, misunderstanding, cultural conflict and even violence among believers of different faiths [18,19,25]. Thus far, quantitative understanding of religious segregation is rare. Here we analyze a directed social network extracted from weibo.com (the largest directed social network in China, similar to twitter.com), which is consisted of 6875 believers in Christianism, Buddhism, Islam and Taoism. This religion network is highly segregative, with only 1.6% of links connecting individuals in different religions. Comparative analysis shows that the extent of segregation for different religions is much higher than that for different races and slightly higher than that for different political parties. The few cross-religion links play a critical role in maintaining network connectivity, being remarkably more important than links with highest betweennesses [26] or bridgenesses [27]. Further content analysis shows that 46.7% of these cross-religion links are probably related to charitable issues. Our findings provide quantitative insights into religious segregation and valuable clues to encourage cross-religion communications.
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