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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2012

12 - Conclusions

Summary

The religious economy is complicated, interrelated, multifaceted, and has a complex relationship with other political, social, and economic phenomena. At our current level of knowledge, no large-n study can aspire to do more than accurately map a distinct segment of the religious economy and begin to explore the relationship between that segment and other aspects of the religious economy, as well as its relationship to other political, social, and economic factors. This study of 175 governments based on the RAS dataset does this for separation of religion and state (SRAS) and government involvement in religion (GIR).

At the beginning of this study I asked a series of questions: What is the extent of GIR between 1990 and 2002 across the globe? Has the extent or nature of this involvement changed during this period? What social and political factors can explain the variation over place and time in GIR? How is GIR otherwise related to important social and political phenomena? This study has addressed all of these questions.

As is usually the case with this type of study, the answers are in some cases partial and create as many questions as answers. Yet this analysis makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of this particular portion of the religious economy. This contribution is part of the larger effort by social scientists to understand the nature of the religious economy, an effort that is very much a work in progress in which much is unknown and uncharted.

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