Market Theory: America Vs Europe

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Stark & Bainbridge (1985):

  • They are very critical of secularisation, which they see as eurocentric
  • Focusing on Europe and failing to explain religious continued importance in America and elsewhere
  • Also puts a distorted view on the past and the future
  • Stark & Bainbridge argue that there was no 'golden age' and it is unrealistic to predict a future end point for religion where everyone will be athiest - instead they propose religious market theory which is based on 2 ASSUMPTIONS:
  • people are naturally religious and religion meets human needs
  • it is human nature to seek rewards and avoid costs

They say that religion is attractive because it only provides us with compensators - only religion provides such compensators. When real rewards are scarce, religion compensates by promising supernatural ones. E.g. immortality is unobtainable, but religion compensates by promising life after death.

Whereas, non religious ideologies such as humanism and communism don't provide credible compensators because it…

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