Title of Chapter or Poem
Download Full Text (391 KB)
Sociology and Anthropology
The past three decades have seen a spate of sociological theorizing about new ‘conservative’ religions. Variously identified as ‘new fundamentalisms’, ‘resurgent religion’, and the like, this scholarship types ‘radical Islam’, ‘nationalist Hinduism’, and pentecostal and fundamentalist Christianity as religious reactions to global modernity. In effect, it sees them as religious responses to social and theological dislocation: as revitalization movements that give their followers the practical and conceptual tools to reformulate their lives, while allowing them to pretend to be upholding their traditions.
This article locates this theorizing in the context of the simultaneous growth of neo-liberal ideologies among both Western intellectuals and comprador elites in the Global South. It asks who wins, if religion is seen as the dead hand of the ignorant past, vainly resisting global progress. It argues that framing the choice as “Jihad versus McWorld” (to use Benjamin Barber’s felicitous phrasing) allows neo-liberals to appear progressive, thus freeing them to transfer resources from the world’s poor to the world’s rich.
The article does not claim that this is intentional; it does claim, however, that identifying religion with resurgent tradition insulates neo-liberalism from theological and ethical critique of all kinds.
Religion in the Neoliberal Age: Political Economy and Modes of Governance
Tuomas Martikainen and François Gauthier
Place of Publication
religion, neoliberalism, fundamentalism, ethics, ethical critique
Comparative Methodologies and Theories | Religion | Sociology of Religion