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WHAT ARE THE MAIN STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE RATIONAL CHOICE APPROACH TO RELIGIOUS BEHAVIOUR BIBLIOGRAPHY 1 G Becker 1986 The economic approach to human behaviour pp 108-22 in J Elster ed Rational Choice Oxford Blackwell 2 L Iannaccone 1990 Religious practice a human capital approach Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 29 297-314 3 S Bruce Religion and rational choice a critique of economic explanations of religious behaviour Sociology of Religion 54 193-205 4 H Bredemeier 1978 Exchange theory pp 420-56 in T Bottomore and R Nisbet eds A History of Sociological Thought New York Basic Books 5 Lecture Notes 6 J Sloman 1996 Economics London Harvester Wheatsheaf One of the pioneers of the rational choice theory has been Gary Becker He states that this approach can be applied to all human behaviour including religion This approach has three assumptions It assumes that people engage in maximising behaviour When applying this approach to religion we are not concerned with money We are concerned with the maximisation of personal benefits When we make a decision we weigh up the costs and benefits and choose the option which offers the most benefit Secondly there are markets that with varying degrees of efficiency allow the actions of different participants to function together efficiently Thirdly prices and other market functions can affect demand and supply controlling desires and affecting the actions of consumers Becker explains that price is not described in money terms but as a shadow price For example muslims cannot drink alcohol This approach involves four theorems Firstly a rise in price reduces the quantity demanded The example he gives is if people have to put more time and effort into having children then less people will do so Secondly a rise in price increases the quantity supplied the example given is women in the labour market Thirdly
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