DeKay examines factors that affect how Little Rock congregation members prioritize community issues

Landon DeKay

One University of Arkansas at Little Rock student is diving deeper into the results from the 2020 Little Rock Congregations Study (LRCS) to investigate the influence of income, politics, and religion on how people prioritize important community issues.

Landon DeKay, a senior graduate with a degree in political science, received a Signature Research Grant from UA Little Rock to examine how LRCS study participants prioritize healthcare, race relations, and income equality.

“The data from the 2020 Little Rock Congregations Study presents a unique opportunity to examine the interplay of religion, politics, and income,” DeKay said. “The extensive survey contains variables that enable me to test hypotheses regarding the influence of income, politics, and religion on the community issues that congregants prioritize.”

DeKay recently won first place in the Social Sciences Division in the UA Little Rock Student Research and Creative Works Expo for his presentation, “Community Issues in Little Rock: The Interplay Between Religion, Politics, and Income.”

“This spring, I worked with Landon on an independent study where he is digging deeper into the data, learning more sophisticated statistical analysis techniques, and seeking to better understand these complex social phenomena,” said Dr. Rebecca Glazier, DeKay’s faculty mentor and head of the LRCS. “Landon is an excellent student, and this grant allowed him to have an educational experience that pushes his learning beyond what he would have received in a traditional classroom. I am really excited for him and proud of what he has accomplished.”

The 2020 LRCS contains survey results from 2,293 people from 35 congregations in Little Rock. Additional factors such as age, income, tithing, political activity, and race were also explored as factors that affect issue prioritization.

His findings include:

  • Community engagement is the factor that has the greatest impact on whether people prioritize healthcare
  • Ideology is the factor that has the greatest impact on whether people prioritize income inequality
  • Community engagement is the factor that has the greatest impact on whether people prioritize race relations

While past explanations of issue prioritization focus on ideology and income, DeKay did not find the same findings for income among the LRCS participants. Income didn’t have a significant impact on the prioritization of healthcare and income inequality. Although income is a significant factor to determine how people prioritize race relations, it’s not the most important factor, falling behind community engagement, ideology, political activity and tithing.

“Income was not as significant as other factors,” DeKay said. “Community engagement and ideology are the factors that are the most important when people look at which community issues to prioritize.”

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