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Between market anomie and distrust: How religion and class shape the economic ethic


  • Adriaenssens, Stef

    () (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB), Belgium)

  • Maes, Ann

    () (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB), Belgium)


A vivid but fragmented research tradition traces the economic ethic to religious beliefs and practices. The problem has a broad social- scientific relevance, referring to the more general problem of the societal relevance of religious practices and convictions on the one hand, and to the relevance of non-economic phenomena for the economy on the other. In this paper, working on a Weberian and Durheimian theoretical framework, we start from two important functions for capitalist economies: market anomie (the extent people are prepared to break moral rules in their economic life) and market distrust (the conviction the market does not function in a trustworthy manner). Both market anomie and the market perception are measured through the second wave of the European Social Survey (2004), an extensive survey in twenty-four European countries. The relevance of religion as a causal factor of these dimensions of capitalist morality is compared to the competing materialist explanation of market dispositions. This theory basically assumes that the social position (class or status group) determines attitudes toward the market. We hypothesize that the religiosity is most important for the market anomie, while market distrust is based on everyday experiences, thus on stratified position. The data support both hypotheses.

Suggested Citation

  • Adriaenssens, Stef & Maes, Ann, 2008. "Between market anomie and distrust: How religion and class shape the economic ethic," Working Papers 2008/30, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:hub:wpecon:200830

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