Chapter

Why Religions Form

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/9780195394757.003.0005
Why Religions Form

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Two models of business organization, the club and the firm, can be used to explain the origins of religion. Theories of the club and firm are recent developments in economics. In religion, Buddhism illustrates the evolution of a club, or sect, to a firm, or established faith. Buddhism’s competition with Hinduism and its role in becoming a monopoly faith in Tibet illustrate economic principles at work. Medieval Catholicism illustrates a multidimensional firm, with its features of division of labor, product differentiation, specialization, and profit making. Practices found in penance manuals and usury laws illustrate the economic forces. Today, clubs are exemplified by stricter sectarian groups or innovative “new” religions. As firms, religious groups can succeed a various sizes, but the megachurch is a particularly successful model because of its use of the entrepreneurial principle.

Keywords: Buddhism; club; Catholicism; division of labor; entrepreneurs; firm; megachurch; product differentiation; profit

Chapter.  9811 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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