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Religious Consumer

One of the economic roles individuals play when engaged in religious behavior. Rational choice theorists posit that individuals weigh the costs and benefits of potential actions, choosing those actions to maximize their net benefits. Religiously active individuals seek rewards through social interaction in a world of uncertainty and deprivation (Iannaccone and Bainbridge 2009:461-462).  The application of rational choice assumptions to religious behavior remains controversial among some scholars (e.g. Chaves 1995), who maintain that assuming “rational action” in effect assumes away issues that warrant explanation.


Chaves, Mark.  1995.  “On the Rational Choice Approach to Religion.”  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 34(1):98-104.

Iannaccone, Laurence R. and William Sims Bainbridge. 2009. “Economics of Religion.” Pp. 461-475 in The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (2nd edition), ed. John Hinnells. New York, NY: Routledge.

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