„What is the role of religion in society? How religion and economics might be intertwined?“


Many people believe that religion occurs only in the church, temple, or other spiritual places of gathering. They see religion and society as complete, separate entities. While this view may appear correct on the surface, a closer look at religion and society reveals that the two are not separate at all, but intricately interconnected and codependent. In reality, religion is inherent within many aspects of society, and religious beliefs inevitably affect areas such as politics, economics, and cultural values. This reelationship between religion and society can be seen in Islamic religion and Muslim social culture, Christianity and economics, and Buddhism and politics. In each of these religions we can find insight for understanding the society in which it exists, as well as in the comparison of these religions and their relationships with society.

There are no known societies that do not have some form of religion, although religious beliefs and practices vary from culture to culture. All religions involve a set off symbols, invoking feelings of reverence, linked to rituals practiced by a community of believers. The three most influential monotheistic religions in world history are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Sociological approaches to religion have been most influenced by Marx, Weber, an

nd Durkheim. Churches, sects, cults, and denominations are four main types of religious organizations. Religious movements have played a central part in the development of religion in general and have influenced other aspects of social life. Although the influence of religion has declined, religion is certainly not on the verge of disappearing. From a historical perspective, the influence of religion has been weakened by the process of secularization.

Religion or/and philosophy is the self-conscious effort to understand and act correctly in this world. Religious beliefs give meaning to life, and experiences associated with them provide personal gratification as well as release from the frustrations and anxieties of daily life.

Research aim: to find out what is religion, to know how religion and ecconomics might be intertwined and how religion affects society.

Research problem: is it true that religion and economics is intertwined?

Methodology: Various sociology books and internet pages researching.


A religion is a ritualized system of beliefs and practices related to things defined as sacred by an organized community of believers. Religion may take a variety of forms. Religious beliefs give meaning to life, and the experiences associated with them provide personal gratification as well as a release from the frustrations and an

nxieties of daily life.

Sociologists define religion as a cultural system of commonly shared beliefs and rituals that provides a sense of ultimate meaning and purpose by creating an idea of reality that is sacred, all-encompassing, and supernatural (Berger, 1967; Durkheim, 1965, orig. 1912; Wuthnow, 1988).
The earliest evidence of religious behavior dates back over 50.000 years, in Europe and Southwest Asia.
Religion, especially in its organized forms, has played a number of roles in history.


There are thousands of different religions throughout the world. Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are embraced by nearly 75 percent of the world’s population.
Christianity is a form of monotheism. It originally emerged in Palestine some 2,000 years ago.
In the eleventh century, Christianity divided into the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
Christianity was spread through conquest and missionary work. Today it has become the largest religion in the world, including about 1 billion Catholics and nearly half a billion Protestants.
In Asia, Christians are a small minority, largely because countries like Japan and China successfully resisted most colonization and the Christianization that went with it.
Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world today. Muslims are estimated to number 1.1 billion. Islam began and remains the official faith of Arab and other peoples of

f the Middle East. It has spread south into Africa, north into Europe and the former Soviet Union, and east to India, Pakistan, China, and Indonesia. Muslims believe in absolute, unquestioning, positive devotion to Allah (God). The precepts of Islam were revealed to Muhammad and are contained in a sacred book dictated to his followers called the Koran.
Islam is an all-encompassing religion. The sacred shares include prescriptions for worship, daily life, ethics, and even government. Life is governed by the Five Pillars of Islam. In most Muslim countries, religious leaders live in a sometimes uneasy alliance with secular governments.
Hinduism dates to about 2,000 years before Christ. It is the source of Buddhism and Sikhism. Today there are some 800 million Hindus.
Hinduism is an ethical religion that calls for an ideal way of life.
India’s caste system has its origins in Hindu beliefs, which hold that an ideal life is partly achieved by performing the duties appropriate to one’s caste. One’s rebirth into a higher

or lower caste depends on the degree to which one is committed to dharma (the ideal way of life).


Since the earliest prehistoric times, faith and belief have always been part of the texture of human society: neither in th

he past nor in the present is it possible to find a society in which religious issues have not been raised. It may even be claimed that human endeavor in the realm of religion and belief has been more strenuous and longer-lasting than his efforts in the area of knowledge and art. In many historical events, religion can be seen to have dominated all relationships. All members of society belong to the church. Churches, sects, denominations and cults are religious organizations. The differences among them lie in their relationship to the social environment. It is possible that in many human societies, unfavorable economic conditions, stagnation and backwardness may coexist with religious belief. But this coexistence does not necessitate any causal relationship; one cannot be presented as the cause of the other.
The espousal of a religious doctrine influences the way a person views the world, and when an entire society of people adopt the same religious beliefs, cultural, political, and economic changes are inevitable. Elements of society such as geography, resources, and outside pressure also influence religious doctrines. Although societies and religions differ a great deal from one to the next, the connections between the two are inherently evident and similar in all religions.
The power of humans to control events is limited, so religion provides an institutionalized means of adjusting to life‘s uncertainties and risks. Humans need to feel that the world is comprehensible, that there is a rhyme and reason for the events of their lives. Religion is generally perceived as fulfilling social functions such as preserving and solidifying society, creating a community of believers, cultivating social change, and providing a means of social control. It also fulfills personal functions such as answering ultimate questions, providing rites of passage, and reconciling people to hardship.

In traditional societies, religion was seen as an authority in all areas of social life; few activities remained unaffected. In modern industrial societies, religion is one of many specialized institutions. As a result, religion has been stripped of many of its former functions and must compete with other institutions for authority. To the extent that individuals accept religious teachings and incorporate them in their business, politics, education, or family life, religion has an indirect influence on these spheres. But religious institutions have no direct authority or control. Today a religious organization may declare that one should give generously to the poor, or that using birth control is a sin, but individuals or society may not take these declarations seriously.
Whenever Religion has played its proper role, Society has been able to maintain a relatively peaceful balance and harmony among the generally disruptive and self-interested tendencies of politics and economics. Thus, the original role of Religion prefigures the idea that Civil Society is needed to balance and correct the competing interests of State and Capital in modern societies. Four roles listed above are crucial for a healthy Civil Society. The proper role of Religion has been: 1) to provide a higher purpose and meaning to human life, one that transcends limited self-interest; 2) to counter-balance the disruptive tendencies of politics and economics with shared values able to hold society together; 3) to provide a moral structure in which human beings act (social ethics); 4) to stand up for and protect the “little ones,” those who are marginalized and oppressed within the usual power schemes.
We must note here that Religion has often failed to play its proper role. Worse, it has many times tried to usurp the powers of State and Capital.


In addition to influencing culture, religion can also have a profound effect on economic changes. In Christianity, the Catholic Church provides an example of a religion that has been institutionalized and become a powerful economic force. After its excommunication with the Eastern Orthodox Church in the middle Ages, it began to develop independently from the state. Although it remains unclear which change occurred first, society’s economic shift or the Catholic Church’s own change to capitalism, the fact that they both made the shift to capitalism at the same time suggests a significant relationship between Christianity and the economics of the time frame through the institution of the Catholic Church.
Events in an economy – levels and standard of living or governmental market interference – influence such things as church attendance or religious beliefs.
How does religiosity affect the performance of the economy? In a way, it’s testing the thesis that Max Weber put forward about a hundred years ago. We entered religiosity as a potential influence on growth in two dimensions. One is about participation in formal religion, measured by rates of church attendance, and a second one is about religious beliefs. It might be belief in an afterlife or in hell or heaven or something like that. Religion is thought of as being the independent variable, influencing something about outcome on the economic, political, and social side. For example, Max Weber’s famous theory about capitalism is in that line: Religiosity influences economic performance, and perhaps political institutions. Regarding how religion influences economic performance, I would stress religion’s influence on economic growth-as in Max Weber’s work on the “Protestant Ethic.” This theory posits that religion affects the economy by influencing certain individual traits. These traits, in turn, may make people more or less economically productive. In general, if religiosity influences the willingness to work and to be productive, that might be an important factor.

According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. According to Marx, religion can only be understood in relation to other social systems and the economic structures of society. In fact, religion is only dependent upon economics, nothing else-so much so that the actual religious doctrines are almost irrelevant. This is a functionalist interpretation of religion: understanding religion is dependent upon what social purpose religion itself serves, not the content of its beliefs. Conceptually, the way we’re thinking about this is that if religion matters for economic performance, it’s going to work by affecting beliefs that affect certain character traits: work ethic, honesty, etc. It might be, for example, that formal religion or other things influence beliefs, and those might work in a positive direction to encourage productivity and growth.
Religion depends on social and economic factors; there are two important sociological theories about how religion responds to these factors. One approach is called the “Secularization Hypothesis.” It’s a part of what is often called “Modernization Theory.” The Modernization theory posits that as an economy develops and gets richer, certain societal institutions and features change in a regular way. The Secularization hypothesis applies this theory to religiosity: as economies develop and get richer, people supposedly become less religious.
The second important approach in the sociology of religion literature is often called the “Religion Market Model.” It speaks about the way government interacts with religion and influences the extent of participation in religion-or even the extent of religious beliefs. Thus, sometimes the government regulates the market, possibly promoting a monopoly religion or making it difficult for other religions to flourish. In one way or another, the government will be influencing the amount of formal religious activity.
Religious economies are like commercial economies in that they consist of a market of current and potential customers, a set of firms serving that market, and religious “product lines” offered by various firms. Sometimes we see a society enjoying prosperity and flourishing economically that is deeply attached to religion, while another society that enjoys similarly favorable economic conditions is totally averse to religion.
There are other aspects of religion that might be negative for economic performance. For example, organized religion may prohibit certain kinds of economic transactions or be able to persuade the government to prohibit them-for example, credit markets, insurance markets, or regulations related to the incorporation of businesses.


There are monotheistic religions that believe in one god and polytheistic religions that believe in a number of gods. Religion is very important in human life. It affects various areas of their life. Religion helps to understand a world. People are gathering to various religious groups. They go to churches, temples, sects, denominations, cults. Everybody needs to believe in something. From historical times we know that religion was very influential and strong. It interfered into humans lives. Priests and bishops wanted to control everything. It was told for everybody how they have to live. Now situation is different, because church has no such a big influence for society. But various beliefs and religions are very important and necessary because it may help people to live. They can have an effect for people’s values, thoughts. When one feels lost and disappointed he has a religion. Religion helps to answer various questions.
Religion depends on social and economic factors. One theory is „Modernization theory“and other is „ Religion market model“. These theories show how religiosity can change.
Religion has an influence for economics too. As Weber said it can affect economy by influencing various individual traits. Various religion beliefs can influent states economics. Such a beliefs as hell or heaven can have influence to economics. When people believe that they will go to hell if they do bad things can improve economics. Religion helps to get moral norms (what you can do, and what you can‘t).


Sociology. An introduction. Third edition. Michael S. Bassis, Richard J. Gelles, Ann Levine
Sociology. An introduction. Third edition. J. Ross Eshleman, Barbara G. Cashion, Laurence A. Basirica

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