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One of the pioneers of the rational choice theory has been Gary Becker. He states that this approach can be applied to all human behaviour, including religion.
This approach has three assumptions. It assumes that people engage in maximising behaviour. When applying this approach to religion we are not concerned with money. We are concerned with Secularisation courseowrk essay maximisation of personal benefits. When we make a decision we weigh up the costs and benefits and choose the option which offers the most benefit.
Becker explains that price is not Secularisation courseowrk essay in money terms but as a shadow price. For example, muslims cannot drink alcohol. This approach involves four theorems. Firstly, a rise in price reduces the quantity demanded. The example he gives is if people have to put more time and effort into having children then less people will do so.
Secondly, a rise in price increases the quantity supplied, the example given is women in the labour market. Thirdly, competitive markets are more efficient then monopolistic markets and lead to the diversity of a product.
Fourthly, a tax on the output of a market reduces that output eg the punishment of criminals is a tax on crime.
Finke and Iannaccone have applied this theory to religious behaviour and understand that the high degree of religion in America is attributed to the existence of a free market and therefore competition and diversification in religion.
Finke argues that in a free market start up costs are low and this leads to new ideas and more diversity and therefore more chance of everyone finding a religion they like. Also in a competitive free market earning a living acts as an incentive to clergy to work harder and try to tailor their religion to suit the demands of the consumer.
He also suggests that state monopolies are less efficient in the absence of competition and believes that state churches would therefore allow high costs.
Bruce highlights some weaknesses of this theory. He states that the early Christian church had very high startup costs eg persecution and this did not prevent the recruitment of new followers.
On the other hand, according to the maximisation theory, the benefits must have outweighed the cost of the threat of persecution or no-one would have joined.
Bruce criticises the theorem that inefficiency exists in the absence of competition by pointing out that the Roman Catholic Church is a state supported monopoly in many countries and a hegemony in others yet it has been very efficient. Also, Roman Catholic success is not a result of a free market as it has done well in Poland and the Republic of Ireland where there is almost no competition.
Bruce also states that as people moved away from the national church and competition increased in the middle ages, people became more invloved in religion.
This suggests that competition does lead to religion but the free market model does not explain the decline in involvement in religion from the start of the century. Maybe this decline can be best described by the sociological theory of secularisation. Perhaps people feel that the costs of religion and the restrictions it imposes on their lifestyles outweigh the benefits or that religion would not benefit them at all.
Iannaccone believes that economics can explain known facts about individual decision making with regards to religious behaviour. He believes economics can explain facts about denominational mobility, typical age of converts, typical patterns of inter-religious marriage and participation levels found in different marriages.
The majority of Americans remain in the churches they were raised in and return to them if they drift away. If they do move it is likely to be to a similar church. Iannaccone explains these facts with reference to investment ie people have already spent a great deal of time and effort in their religion and to move to a new religion requires new investment and initial investment is wasted.
He explains that beliefs which seem more plausible to us are beliefs which accord with residues of earlier stages of belief. The human capital model predicts religious switching will occur early in the life cycle as people search for the best match between their skills and the context in which they produce religious commodities.
Over time diminishing marginal utility will occur ie gains from further switching will dimiinish as the potential for improvement decreases and the years left during which they can capitalise on that improvement decrease.
Bruce suggests that socialisation with like-minded believers and how much of a satisfactory explanation of the world and our place in it is given is likey to increase plausibility over time and that there is no need for reference to economics.
Iannaccone states that households peactice their beliefs more efficiently when husband and wife belong to the same religion. He believes they benefit from economies of scale as they can take the same car to church and avoid disputes over whcih religion the children are to practice etc.
He states this is why tend to marry within the same denomination.alphabetnyc.com februari – nu It consisted of structured coursework that entailed two-week classes in Cape Town twice a year over a period of 3 years.
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There are UK writers just like me on hand, waiting to help you. Best Essay Samples The secularisation thesis Furthermore, figures of marriages, baptisms and funerals have also been confirmed to have declined in the Church of England’s own figures.
This is interlinked with secularisation, which means the decline in religious practice and essay. types the stepfamily are more at risk of poverty because the stepfather would have to provide for his current order coursework children and help children Another main reason in why same- sex families essay is the decline in secularisation.