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Capitalism & Religion (SO339-15)

How do people’s religious beliefs, spiritual strivings and desires play into the power relations and attitudes of the contemporary world? Is religion responsible for class power, imperialism and/or economic development? What is the link between sexuality, spirituality and power? How have religious movements contributed to the making of capitalist economics and the spread of capitalism across the globe? What is the impact of modern capitalist economics on religious belief? Does capitalism destroy spirituality? Has capitalism itself become a new kind of religion? Is Money the new God?

This module takes up a series of classic debates from social theory about the relationship between modernity, capitalism, ideology and religion and brings them up to date. We will explore religious dimensions of contemporary power – including Neo-liberal economics, international development, western imperialism, explotation and dictatorship. We will engage with classic and cutting edge social theory, and apply this to examples from Africa, America and Europe. Examples will primarily relate to Christianity and capitalism, but students are welcome to incorporate their own research on other world religions.


Module Director

Claire Blencowe

Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring Term of the 2016/17 academic year, and is worth 15 CATS.