Social policy, state demographics and social change
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Same-sex marriage policy and marijuana policy are currently experiencing rapid and substantial change in the U.S. States are reacting differently to these policies as well. It is important to understand what is driving this change and what this can tell us about solidarity concerning these issues. This study looks to understand which states are more likely to approve same-sex marriage and medical marijuana policies based on demographic characteristics. This study is quantitative in nature and looks to religion, social class, and modernization as the driving forces in tolerance of deviance as set out by Durkheim and his perspective on solidarity and social change. With evidence of strong correlations between religion, social class, modernization (urbanization), and political affiliation, this study seeks to analyze: (1) relationship between state demographic and population characteristics and approval of same-sex marriage, (2) relationship between state demographic and population characteristics and approval of medical marijuana policies, and (3) relationship between state demographic and population characteristics and political outcome in the 2012 presidential election. Findings include the percent of a state’s population that is evangelical protestant affect whether a state approves same-sex marriage and medical marijuana, but not whether a state was “blue” or “red” in the 2012 presidential election. Implications of this study point to a need to better understand how and why evangelical protestant religions are having such a large effect on policy in the U. S., but are not being felt in the political outcomes of elected officials. As changes in these policies are currently happening each year future research should look to build off of this study’s findings in order to gain better understanding of what is influencing changes in these policies and tolerance of deviance.