This is a one-of-kind volume bringing together leading scholars in the economics of religion for the first time. The treatment of topics is interdisciplinary, comparative, as well as global in nature. Scholars apply the economics of religion approach to contemporary issues such as immigrants in the United States and ask historical questions such as why did Judaism as a religion promote investment in education?
The economics of religion applies economic concepts (for example, supply and demand) and models of the market to the study of religion. Advocates of the economics of religion approach look at ways in which the religion market influences individual choices as well as institutional development. For example, economists would argue that when a large denomination declines, the religion is not supplying the right kind of religious good that appeals to the faithful. Like firms, religions compete and supply goods. The economics of religion approach using rational choice theory, assumes that all human beings, regardless of their cultural context, their socio-economic situation, act rationally to further his/her ends.
Global Compassion is an ambitious account of the relationship between private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and the US federal government from 1939-2005. After World War II, humanitarian aid became a key component of US foreign policy and has grown steadily ever since. Organizations like Oxfam, CARE, World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services are known the world over; however, little is known about the relationship between these private agencies and the federal government, and how truly influential these organizations can be in the realm of foreign policy. Here, Rachel McCleary provides the first truly comprehensive study of PVOs and their complex, often-fraught interaction with the federal government. The book focuses on the work of PVOs from a foreign policy perspective, revealing how federal political pressures shape the field of international relief. McCleary draws on a wide array of data–annual reports, State Department documents, and IRS records–to assess to what extent international relief and development work is becoming a commercial activity. She analyzes the often competing goals of the federal government and religious PVOs. She then exames the continuing trend of decreasing federal funds to PVOs and the simultaneous increasing awards to commercial enterprises, and looks at what this holds for the future. In this thought-provoking and rigorously researched work, Rachel McClearly offers a unique, substantive look at an understudied area of US foreign policy and international development.
Documenting a rare political occurrence, Rachel McCleary examines the evolution of the two major elite groups in Guatemala—the organized private sector and the military—during the country’s transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Arguing that the transition resulted from a stalemate over economic policy, she shows how the two elites altered their relations from disunity (during the period from 1982 to 1986) to unity (from 1993 to the present). Not only does she describe a nonviolent settlement, she also discusses the development of democracy in a country that was directly caught up in Cold War relations between the United States and the USSR. Thus she makes a serious contribution to the study of democratization as well as to Latin American history.