Religion and patterns of social and economic organization

Elective affinity between religion and economy in Christian denominations in Switzerland and Russia

Prior to the crisis of 2008 that took place in the US and Europe, the socio-economic situation was described by many economists and political analysts from the dominant neoliberal wing as late modernity with representative democracy and the free market as sole normative model of social and economic system. After the crisis of 2008, this normative example has seized to be unquestionable: the crisis affected the developed countries which actively promoted the centrality of financial innovation, from the stock market to mortgages and the practices of unsecured borrowing (credits)

Economic models which view religion as a predictor of economic development in society consider that the market economy, being the dominant type of economic relations in the contemporary world, is the equivalent of development. Traditionally, this model views certain Protestant denominations as those religious systems that effectively foster the process of economic development. Currently, there is no model which would allow analyzing both the contributions of religion to the development of human societies and, at the same time, the involvement of the types of economic relations as an alternative or complement to the market exchange.

In this contemporary situation the proposed research project explores the capacity of religion in facilitating the development of various patterns of social and economic organization by analyzing the elective affinity (Weber) of various Christian denominations (Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism) and three types of economic relations (market exchange, redistribution, gift exchange). The main research questions are the following:

1) How does religion contribute to economic growth and sustainable development? 
2) How the relation between religions and economy is influenced by different types and components of religion and religiosity? 
3) How the relation between religions and economy is moderated by those types of economic relations – market exchange, redistribution, and reciprocity (gift exchange)?

The research methods include a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews. The object of our project is represented by Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant (both the traditional faith and also new denominations) believers who attend the religious services.

The elaborated model within this project could be used for analyzing the contribution of religion to economic growth and sustainable development. Also, it may provide for international economic institutions some important insights regarding the assessment of the quality of life.