REL 282
Religion and Capitalism Spring 2016 Division II; Writing-Intensive; Cross-listed as REL282 / PSCI140 / SOC283
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Up through the 1960s it was popular to claim that the world was becoming increasingly and inevitably secular, with the development of modern capitalist social relations as a signature cause. Today the ‘secularization thesis’ is largely defunct. Instead one sees the vibrant return of religion to social, economic, and political prominence in most parts of the world–at the very same time we are experiencing through globalization and the information revolution the most dramatic economic advances in a century. This course investigates the historical and contemporary relationship between culture and economics, religion and capitalism, in their most encompassing forms. In investigating this theme, our cornerstone will be Max Weber’s famous argument from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Along the way we will discuss both the origins of capitalist society as well as its more recent transformations through the rise of the welfare state, consumerism, and globalization. We will also discuss changes in religion under the influence of capitalism including romanticism, Pentecostalism, moralistic therapeutic Deism, and the ‘God gap’ between largely theist Africa, South and West Asia, and the Americas on the one hand and largely atheist Europe and East Asia on the other. The focus of the course is on Christianity in Western countries both historically and in the present, but we will spend time discussing religion (particularly Pentecostalism) and capitalism in the contemporary Global South as well.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 14
Class#: 3886
Requirements/Evaluation: regular discussion questions, three 5- to 6-page papers, in-class paper workshops, 20- to 24-page final term paper incorporating earlier papers
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: open to first-years and sophomores only
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive;
Attributes: PSCI Comparative Politics Courses; PSCI Political Theory Courses;

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