Working Paper BETA #2019-11

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Title : The Smithian Market of Religions and its Legacy: Another Great Schism between Economics and Sociology?

Author(s) : Georges El Haddad

Abstract : Adam Smith (1776) is the first to introduce religions into a market. Our article studies Smith’s neglected contribution to secularization theories and sociological market of religions then distinguishes it from his contribution to the economic market of religions. The objective of this article is to show that sociology and economics of religion both rely on Smith. Our issue analyzes if the markets of religions in the two disciplines evolve contradictory or complementary. Our results show an interdisciplinary dissemination of Smith’s ideas between sociology and economics of religion, a (unknown/neglected) Smithian background for sociology of religion and a demand-side market of religions in sociology. We demonstrate that there is no opposition between the two disciplines, but a methodological difference between demand and supply mechanisms. Our historical work remarks a methodological schism in the markets of religion with the introduction of Becker’s rational choice into sociology. We trace a historical tree to distinguish the demand mechanism (Marx, Durkheim, Weber and traditional sociological market) from the supply mechanism (Tocqueville, Blau and Homans, Becker, and rational choice theory in sociology and economics of religion) in the evolution of Smith’s market.

Key-words : Adam Smith, Market of Religions, Rational Choice Theory, Secularization Theories, Economics and Sociology of Religion.

JEL Classification : Z12, B12, A12, P16, B41