- Religious market theory
- Stark and Bainbridge- religious market theory(rational choice theory). They criticise secularisation theory for its distorted view of the past and future. There was no golden age of religion nor is it likely that everyone will be an atheist in the future.
- A critique of secularisation theory which they see as eurocentric and failing to explain religions continuing vitality in America and elsewhere.
- Stark and bainbridge base the religious market theory on these ideas. People are naturally religious and religion meets human needs. Poeple make rational choices based on the costs and benefits of the avaliable religious options.
- Religion is attractive because it provides us withsupernatural compensators when real rewards are unobtainable. E.G- immortlity is unobtainable, but religion compensates by promising life after death.
- Only religion can provide such compensators becuase only it can promise supernatural rewards
- Historical cycle: Stark and Bainbridge suggest there is a historical cycle of religious decline. revival and renewal; as established churches decline, they leave a gap in the market for new sects and cults.
- Competition: Religios market theorists argue that competition leads to improvments in the quality of the religious goods on offer,. Curches that make their product attractive succeed in attracting more customers.
- America versus Europe
- Demand for religion increases when there is a choice, becuase consumers can find one that meets their needs. In the USA religon is strong because a healthy market exsists where religons grow or decline according to consumer demand. But where there is a religious monoloy, as in most Eurpoean countries (COElack of choice has led to decline
- Norris and Inglehart show that high levels of religious participation exsist in Catholic countries where the church has a new monopoly. E,G- Venezuela. This contradicts Stark and Bainbridges theory
- From this point of view secularisation theory is one sided it sees the decline but ignores the growth of new religions and religious revivals
- Existential security theory
- Norris and Inglehart reject religious market theory on the grounds that it only applies to America and fails to explain the variations in religiousity between societies.
- They argue that the reason for such variations is not different degress of religious choice, but different degrees of exisential security- the feeling that survival is ecure enough taht it can be taken for granted.
- Religion meets a need for security and so groups and societies where people feel insecure have a high level of demand for religion. These tend to be low- income groups and societies.
- This explains why poor Third world countries- and poor people in rich countries- remain religious, while people in prosperous Western countries are more secure and have become more secular.
- Norris and Inglehart only see relgion as a negative response to deprivation. They ignore the positive reasons people have for religious particpation.
- Europe Vs America
- Western Europe is becoming secular becuase these societies are relatively equal and secure with well developed welfare states which reduce insecurity among the poor whereas the USA remains religious
- Similarilary Gill and Lundegaarge argue taht the more a country spends on welfare the lower its level of religious particpation.
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