Rethinking the Study of Religious Markets

Daniel M. Hungerman

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195390049
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Rethinking the Study of Religious Markets

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In the early 1990s, little work was being produced on the economics of religion; today, dozens of papers are being written (and published) on the topic, including articles in the top journals on economics and sociology. This body of work has produced a number of useful findings. Starting with the seminal contribution by Laurence Iannaccone (1992), research has shown that seemingly bizarre religious practices (such as forcing adherents to act in strange ways or sacrifice valuable property) are in fact crucial screening devices; organizations which embrace these “irrational” practices often grow the fastest (at least initially). Work has also shown that religious faith does not wilt in the face of scientific knowledge. This article deals with religious markets, focusing on theories of interreligious competition and congregations' awareness or concern about competition with secular forces vis à vis religious forces. It argues that work on religious competition has focused too narrowly on competition among congregations, and that more work should be done examining religious responses to secular phenomena.

Keywords: religious markets; interreligious competition; congregations; economics; religion; religious practices; religious faith

Article.  6528 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Microeconomics ; Industry Studies

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