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Glossary and references

Glossary

Denomination

A church or religious sect that forms a sub–group of a religion. Denominations of a particular religion share the same principles but differ from each other in aspects such as the form of worship used and the way in which they are governed.

Religion (from the Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups)

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, usually involving acknowledgement of a divine or higher being or power, by which people order the conduct of their lives both practically and in a moral sense.

For the purposes of the classification of religious affiliation, however, entities that do not meet these criteria but are universally or widely regarded as religions, are also included. They are included to ensure that the classification is comprehensive, useful and widely acceptable. For example, Buddhism is universally accepted as a religion although it does not acknowledge a personal God. Similarly, Confucianism is regarded as a religion – even though it involves no belief in the supernatural – because it provides the moral code of its adherents. Not all philosophies, however, that involve beliefs about the nature of life or codes of behaviour are accepted as religions. For instance, some people regard Marxism as a religion because it is based on a coherent set of beliefs, but it is more generally regarded as a political philosophy and so is not classified as a religion under the classification. Responses that are political philosophies (eg Marxist, Socialist) are coded to the 'response outside scope' residual category. Thus, the extent of opinion about whether a particular entity is a “religion” (especially the opinion of the adherents), practical considerations, and generally held ideas about the nature of philosophies, organisations and institutions help to determine which entities are regarded as religions under the classification.

Residual categories

Not elsewhere classified (nec)

A ‘not elsewhere classified’ (nec) category is a type of residual category that appears within a classification for responses that are infrequent or unanticipated. These categories never appear within classifications as stand–alone descriptors, but are combined with descriptors, often taken from a higher level in the classification.

Not further defined (nfd)

A ‘not further defined’ (nfd) category is a type of residual category that appears within a hierarchical classification for responses that cannot be coded to the most detailed level of the classification but can be coded to a higher level of the classification. These categories never appear within classifications as stand–alone descriptors, but are combined with descriptors, often taken from a higher level in the classification.

Don’t know

Use of this category is discretionary. The use of a category capturing don't know responses is most applicable to household surveys where don't know may be a legitimate response to certain questions.

Object to answering

This category is only used when it is known that the respondent has purposefully chosen not to respond to the question. Use of this residual category in processing is optional. Its use is most applicable in face–to–face or telephone interviews, but may be used in self–completed questionnaires if the respondent has clearly indicated they refuse or object to answering the question.

Response unidentifiable

This category is used when there is a response given, but:

  1. the response is illegible, or
  2. it is unclear what the meaning or intent of the response is – this most commonly occurs when the response being classified contains insufficient detail, is ambiguous or is vague, or
  3. the response is contradictory eg, both the yes and no tick boxes have been ticked, or
  4. the response is clear and seemingly within the scope of the classification but can not be coded because no suitable option (particularly other residual category options such as 'not elsewhere classified' or 'not further defined') exists in the classification or codefile.
Response outside scope

This category is used for responses that are positively identified (ie the meaning and the intent are clear) but which clearly fall outside the scope of the classification/topic as defined in the standard.

Not stated

This category is only used where a respondent has not given any response to the question asked, ie it is solely for non–response.

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics (1996), Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups, Canberra.

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