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Religion and Comparative Development

The Genesis of Democracy and Dictatorship

Theocharis Grigoriadis

Religion and Comparative Development is the first analytical endeavor on religion and government that incorporates microeconomic modeling of democracy and dictatorship as well as empirical linkages between religious norms and the bureaucratic provision of public goods within the framework of survey data analysis and public goods experiments. Moreover, it explores the rising significance of religion in Middle East and post-Soviet politics, as well as in current migration, security and party developments in the United States and Europe alike through these lenses.
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Chapter 2: Religious origins of political regimes

Theocharis Grigoriadis


Weber considered the Protestant work ethic the foundation of modern capitalism. The chapter extends Weber’s theory by arguing that states with predominantly Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Muslim populations have had a stronger inclination toward underdevelopment and dictatorship than states with Protestant or Jewish majorities. This is the case because their respective religious collectives (monastery, tariqa) promote the hierarchical provision of common goods at the expense of market incentives. The chapter defines the aforementioned three religions as collectivist, in contrast to Protestantism and Judaism, which are defined as individualist. The chapter provides a historical overview that designates the Jewish kibbutz as the collective of democracy and the Eastern Orthodox monastery as the collective of dictatorship. Focusing on collectivist economies, it is revealed that modernization, as a credible commitment to the improved future provision of public goods, occurs when the threat of a radical government is imminent and when the leader has high extraction of rents from the economy. The emergence of radical governments is more likely in collectivist than in individualist economies. Historical illustrations from collectivist economies include the Russian Revolution, the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the postwar welfare state in Western Europe.

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