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Hi there.

In the previous video, we looked at

the idea of language and dialect.
We saw the difficulties in measuring them.
In this video,
we're going to do the same with a much
more contentious issue of religion.
But before we start,
I want to say a few words.
I will not be making any comments on
the characteristics inherent in different
religions, and whether they're compatible
or not with economic growth or democracy.
In the West, the sociologist Max Weber
writing in 1903 identified the rise of
capitalism with the Protestant ethic.
It's a departure point still
favored by many historians.
But these arguments were countered
by those who argued that he
ignores evidence of scientific
advancement under Catholicism.
And that anyway many of
the attributes that he focused in
religion owed their origins to
other socio-economic phenomenon.
Now, there's a similar tendency
today in some circles to argue
that Islam as a religion.
Is incompatible with economic growth or
political modernization.
And I want to make sure this
is a view that I do not share.
But that doesn't matter.
It's not the departure point
we're taking in this video.
What we're looking at is the degree of
fragmentation in religious beliefs.
Now, for most people their experience
of faith and the supernatural.
It's intensely personal.
It's for this reason that in theory
at least the impact on trust might be
greater than other variables.
The belief in a shared destiny
after death from which
others are excluded is a powerful
force in enhancing bonding capital.
And this belief could be reinforced by
participation in religions and festivals.
Indeed it's when faith
is shared with others,
that this relationship becomes a religion.
So religion may be considered
a shared belief systems.
And it's exercised through
a pattern of shared rituals.
So, how to we get the data necessary for
an analysis?
Well again,

the first way is to ask people.

But the problem is they
may not answer truthfully.
Simply because religion is so intensely
personal, many people consider it
certainly not the business of the state or
civic authorities.
Other people may choose to hide
their religious affiliation for
fear of discrimination or persecution.
So in the same way as questions
into ethnicity were resented, so
also questions on religion contributed
to the criticism of national censuses.
Another route is to ask questions about
the visible dimensions of religions, and
to measure participation
in religious services and
festivals, attendance at the church and
the temple.
The problem here is that,
especially in small communities, religious
services also serve as social function.
Alternatively, participation in
church rituals may bring with it
economic benefits.
And non participation may risk exclusion.
So, the frequency of attendance may
say very little about the depth of
religious fervour, or
the intensity of religious belief.
But there's one source that's more than
happy to provide with numbers, and
that's the faith bodies themselves.
Almost all of them keep a watch
on their own membership and
keep a keen eye on the opposition.
The problem with this source is
that once one's been accepted into
the church there's little
possibility of leaving it.
And faith authorities tend to
consider you a member for life.
Despite these evident handicaps, the team
led by Alesina, used as their source for
religious fragmentation,
the World Christian Encyclopedia.
The Encyclopedia however, has been accused
of overzealousness on several counts.
Firstly, especially in rural Africa, it
has the habit of including everyone within
the range of a church or
a mission as a member of the church.
Second drawback, is it tends to
underestimate syncretic cults.
These are belief systems that combine
Christian beliefs with cults of
African origin.
In Bolivia, for
example, the encyclopedia records

that the population is 93% Christian.

Whereas alternative sources suggest that
43% actually hold syncretic beliefs.
Similarly, in the Dominican Republic,
the encyclopedia estimates
over 98% is Christian.
Whereas an alternative source suggests,
that just over 50% ask.
In a similar way, the encyclopedia
tends to underestimate animistic cults,
which are common in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Again, a couple of examples.
In Angola, it estimates the percentage of
the population following animistic cults
at 19%,
opposed to 34% from alternative sources.
Similarly in Burundi it suggests
that animism was followed by 25% as
opposed to 39% of the population
in alternative estimates.
Despite these drawbacks social
scientists at the moment, seem to
have little alternative to using the World
Christian Encyclopedia as a source for
religious fragmentation.
Now, before leaving
the question of religion,
there's one check we can make about
the importance of religious fragmentation.
Presumably if religion is not experiences
important factor in daily life,
then the question of fragmentation
will lose it's relevance.
Now, an opinion poll in 2009
asked exactly this question of
citizens in 114 countries
around the world.
Now, in contrast with these vast polls
conducted by the world value survey, which
we criticized so much in the previous
lecture, this one was limited in scope.
And research suggests that this type
of simple short survey elicits more
truthful and more considered answers.
The poll though suggests that
84% of the population do
consider religion playing
an important part in their lives.
Let's sum up now.
In this video we looked at
the difficulties in measuring
religious affiliation.
We suggested that there are limitations
in the sources employed, and we also
suggested that religious affiliation and
religiosity are not the same.
But what we haven't done is said
anything about fragmentation itself.
Now, this we've done in the world map of
religion that we've prepared for you.

And we invite you to view it next.

In the following video we're going
to look at the issue of income and
wealth inequality.