Religion, Economy, and Secularization

Years of Activity: 2010 - 2019

Research Status:


Dr. Merav Amran, Dr. Guy Ben-Porat, Yaron Cohen Tzemah, Sharon Gordon, Prof. Aziz Haidar, Dr. Oded Heilborner, Dr. Yochi Fischer,  Prof. Eli Lederhendler, Prof. Meni Mautner, Dr. Amos Zehavi

Over the past two decades, the complex relations between the economy, religion, and secularization have been established amid the broader changes of globalization. These changes pose new challenges to secular and religious groups and create opportunities for new definitions of secularism and religious observance. Thus, demographic changes resulting from migration or the development of a consumer society that is indifferent or hostile to the limitations of religious observance are likely, or liable, to threaten the status of religion, with its institutions and arrangements between church and state. Studies on religion and secularization tend not to deal with the influence of a market economy on the processes of secularization, the turn to religion, and issues related to the everyday encounter of the market economy with religious principles.
This research group seeks to examine empirically and theoretically the development of new arenas in which secularization and the turn to religion are shaped, in the Israeli context and from a comparative perspective. This examination is to be set against a background of the development and growth in power of a market economy, and the contexts in which religion and secularism are shaped in response to new rules of the game and changing patterns of action. The group will discuss such questions as how religion influences the development of capitalism, how capitalism has influenced religion and processes of secularization in the past and the present, and what the connection is between a secular-liberal philosophy and ideological religious observance, on the one hand, and everyday behavior on the other; which challenges and possibilities the global economy creates for religious institutions and religious groups; how the increasing strength of the global economy influences processes of secularization, the new definitions of the boundaries between religious observance and secularism, and the status of secularism and religious observance as a way of life; and to what extent the views on socioeconomic justice blur what are defined as religious and secular values.
Accompanying the theoretical-philosophical discussion is an examination of the real relations between the economy and religion in Israel, in comparison with processes taking place in other religions and in other places, to provide a broader and more complex picture. The group is discussing classic texts on the topic of religion and economy, contemporary studies, and work by its members.