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Rituals or good works: social signaling in religious organizations

Levy, Gilat and Razin, Ronny (2010) Rituals or good works: social signaling in religious organizations. . London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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As Weber (1904) recognized, Calvinistic beliefs about predestination - perhaps counter-intuitively- constitute a powerful incentive for good works; an individual wishes to receive assurances about her future prospects of salvation, and good works may provide a positive signal about such prospects. These beliefs also create a social pressure to preform, as good works can also signal to others that individuals belong to the elect, and are therefore likely to behave well in the future. In this paper we focus on this social signaling incentive, and show that such a behaviour-based religious organization allows individuals to capture social surplus from coordination. We contrast these organizations with ritual-based religions, introduced in Levy and Razin (2009) and show that a behavior-based religion provides a higher average material welfare to its members. We use our model to discuss the Protestant Reformation in Geneva, a process characterized by the reduction of rituals along with the creation of mechanisms to monitor individuals' behaviour and inform others about it.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 The Authors
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
JEL classification: Z - Other Special Topics > Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology > Z12 - Religion
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2010 16:23
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 13:15

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