Chapter

The Economic Approach

Witham Larry

in Marketplace of the Gods

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195394757
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777372 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394757.003.0001
The Economic Approach

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The economic approach has attempted to explain several puzzles in religion, among them the new religions of Japan, blue laws in America, the behavior of Latin American bishops, church giving, Islamic banking, and why religions prescribe distinctive kinds of clothing. In the economic approach, economists take a simple assumption about rational, calculated behavior in human beings to avoid the complexities of psychology and culture. The economics of religion also follows the approach of “positive economics,” which tests a theory against data, producing case-studies. It adopts a range of economic concepts: opportunity cost, scarcity, constraints, supply and demand, risk and the future, and the operation of clubs, firms, and markets. On the model of micro-economics and macro-economics, the economic approach to religion looks at individuals, households, clubs, firms, and the larger marketplace.

Keywords: economic models; culture; positive economics; psychology; household; club; firm; marketplace

Chapter.  5743 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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