Unit 3: Religion in a Global Context

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  • Created by: Charlotte
  • Created on: 25-04-13 11:31

Religion has long existed in a worldwide context and it has been described as the 'original globaliser', because for centuries the major religions have spread across the world, through conquest, colonization and migration. Globalization has many consequences for all areas of life, including religion:

- As societies come into closer contact with one another, there is the potential for religious conflict and for religious diversity and change.

- When one society or state dominates another, people may use religion to explin and resist this domination.

- Cultural and social changes brought by globalization may threaten cherished values and lead some to turn to the certainties promised by Fundamentalism.

- Religious ideas lead some people to act in new ways that encourage economic development in less developed societies.


1) God and Globalization in India:

India has become a much more prominent player on the world's economic and political stage.

- Nanda examines the role of Hinduism, the religion of 85% of the population in:

a) Hinduism and prosperity:

- Globalization has created a huge and prosperous, scientifically educated, urban middle class in India, working in IT, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors closely tied into the global economy.

- A vast majority of this class continue to believe in the supernatural and it has been found that Indians in general, but particularly the urban educated are becoming more religious and continue to believe in miracles and supernatural beings.

- Her research revealed that the middle classes were optimistic about the opportunities that globalization brings, arguing that their increased religiosity is the result of their ambivalence about their new founded wealth which stems from a tension between the traditional Hindu belief in renunciation of materialism and their new prosperity.

- This is resolved for them by the modern holy men and tele-gurus to whom they turn, who preach the message that desire is not bad, but rather a manifestation of divinity that motivates people to do things.

b) Hinduism and ultra-nationalism:

- Indian Nationalism: India's success in the global market is increasingly attributed to the superiority of 'Hindu values' a view constantly promoted by the media and politicians along with the idea that Hinduism is the essence of Indian culture and identity.

- The worships of Gods has become the same as worshipping the nation of India and therefore in this context Hinduism has become a civil religion.

- Hinduism has also penetrated public life, so that the supposedly secular state is increasingly influenced by religion.

- However, Nanda also observes that this is creating a widening gulf between Hindus and non-Hindu minorities.

2) Capitalism in East Asia:

- In recent decades South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan and more recently China have become significant and powerful players in the global economy. The success of capitalism in East Asia is seen by some sociologists to be similar of that of Calvinism.

- Redding describes the spirit of capitalism among discipline and self-improvement leading to economic productivity and the accumulation of capital.


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