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A neo-Weberian approach to religion in international politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 November 2009

Cecelia Lynch
Affiliation:
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, and Director, Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies, University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Science Plaza, Irvine, CA, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Current approaches for understanding and analyzing religion in international politics insufficiently incorporate the role of ethics in the practices of religious actors. Primordialist approaches essentialize religion, instrumental approaches consider it to be an epiphenomenon, and cosmopolitan approaches a priori downgrade alternative ethical constructs as insufficiently universalist. An approach to religion that begins with a constitutive understanding of religious belief and economic, social, and political practice as outlined in Weber’s Sociology of Religion, is more helpful. However, because Weber’s method insufficiently addresses ethical intentionality, the ‘neo-Weberian’ approach I advance here incorporates the concepts of ‘common good’ and ‘popular casuistry’ into socio-historical contextualization. This approach provides a way to understand and theorize how religious adherents connect religious guidelines to moral action that avoids the essentialization of religion which is often characteristic of other perspectives.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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