Journal Article

Beyond Christianity: A Critique of the Rational Choice Theory of Religion from a Weberian and Comparative Religions Perspective

Stephen Sharot

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 63, issue 4, pages 427-454
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712301
Beyond Christianity: A Critique of the Rational Choice Theory of Religion from a Weberian and Comparative Religions Perspective

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The rational choice theorists of religion have attempted to build up a body of transcultural, universalistic generalizations, beginning with basic axioms of human rationality. The problematics of the perspective's analytical focus on one type of rationality are made evident by a comparison with Max Weber's types of action. The influence of the American religious experience is evident in the perspective's formulations and explanations, and conceptual and theoretical problems arise when the perspective is applied to non-western religion. The relationship between otherworldly rewards and supernatural beings proposed by the theory has to be modified with respect to eastern religions. Monopolism and pluralism take on different meanings in eastern religious contexts, and variations in state regulations have different consequences from those in the west.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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