Understanding religions as competing platforms: what has happened to religion in the world since the second world war?
Understanding religions as competing platforms: what has happened to religion in the world since the second world war?
Over the last 65 years there has been a large rise in the share of Muslims in the world population and a decline in the share of Christians, but the big story is not one about the former growing at the expense of the latter, since the movement in their relative shares reflects almost entirely the different demographics of the populations in which the two religions were more strongly implanted at the beginning of the postwar era. Instead, the story is about local and folk religions all over the world being replaced by organisations representing one of the two major global religious identities. This lecture will look at how religions compete with each other in the global and local marketplaces.
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Britannica the mortianna distinguish in zinnia in France a università de tolosa a queen Dino molesta que da da la parola Asano convoy molto Carrillo so this interior it's for adjournment thank you very much it's a great honor to be back here in Trento I came here for the first time about five years ago I had a wonderful time and I'm very happy to be back and I'm once again amazed that so many people should want to come and listen to economists I think it's a triumph I mean I'm sure the fact that there is air-conditioning and it's hot outside has something to do with this but I'm very flattered and and very pleased I'm glad that you're going to see my slides instead of me on the screen because I have some pictures I want to show you I want to start by telling you about two people that I've been thinking about a lot recently the first of these two people is a young woman aged 23 who came into this church in Accra in Ghana what the picture shows you is the middle of a three hour long sermon at which the preacher was asking people many many times for money and this was a moment in the service at which hundreds of people surged forward to put money into a large circular basin in front of the altar the church can house about two and a half thousand people and this young woman who several days after this meeting came in to do some experiments that my colleagues and I were running in a separate part of Ghana she goes to this church when I first met her I looked at her she was simply but well-dressed and quietly spoken and I thought probably she was a clerk in a small business but what I discovered was astonishing she has one of the worst jobs I can imagine she sells iced water in little plastic packets to motorists in cars that are in traffic jams on the main freeways coming in to Accra she walks up and down between the cars inhaling the exhaust fumes for 12 hours a day and she goes home in the evening to a small house in a slum that she and her aunt built when they came from the country she has an awful job but she does her best to get by she earns about one and a half dollars per day at market exchange rates and on Sundays she goes to church and we calculated carefully as we went through the finances of her life that she gives about twelve percent of her income to the church the pastor of the church is a very rich man who is very happy to let you know that he's very rich he wears a belt with a large buckle that has a dollar sign on it he drives a large Mercedes car he is very very happy to be rich and she freely gives him 12 percent of her income and I want to know why now the answer is not that she is stupid we had long conversations and she is more lucid about her finances than I am about mine she knows very well that because she gives money to the church she can't afford to pay for health treatment for her aunt who is sick so she does this lucidly knowing what she's doing and I want to understand her and that's going to be part of the motivation for what I'm going to tell you later on the second person I want to tell you about is this man Pope Francis I'm sure many of you will have heard of him I was thinking about him a lot recently and in particular when I read an article in the Financial Times in February as he was about to make a visit to several countries in the Gulf region and the article is headlined Pope Francis fights a losing battle in the Middle East the mass flight of Christians from the region continues unchecked now the Financial Times is a serious newspaper David Gardner the author is an excellent journalist who knows the Middle East and who knows Islam and Christianity very well so if you were to take this coverage as typical of the way in which the world thinks now about the situation of Christianity and Islam you would think that in today's world Christianity is on the retreat and Islam is on the rise and that basically violent struggle is replacing peaceful persuasion and peaceful coexistence as the main engine of religious competition and what I'm going to tell you in this talk in the short time I have available to you is that that picture is almost entirely wrong and it is wrong for the following reasons but I'll give you some facts and figures to back it up the first thing which will perhaps surprise you is that both Christianity and Islam are on the advance today I'll show you some statistics shortly to back that up the second thing is that peaceful proselytism and demographic growth have basically replaced violent struggle as the main engine of rivalry between religions the Middle East is an exception and the painful and difficult exception but on the world scale it is really different and the third thing I want to tell you and this is really going to be the message of the talk is it the big story of the second half of the 20th century and the 21st century is that religion is becoming corporatized and branded and it is pushing out small local folk religions everywhere across the world that is the big story and that is not what you read in most of the op-ed pages in even the serious newspapers so we have a lot to study it's fascinating for economists and other social scientists to study this how is that process happening and in particular how does it interact with issues of identity and as you will know it's become particularly important in recent in recent weeks with the European elections identity matters and increasingly political entrepreneurs are selling us visions of identity many of which have religious messages attached to them so I thought since I'm in Italy I would give you a picture that would share your heart this is a rosary being brandished in the square of the Piazza del Duomo and clearly in Italy questions about the interaction of religious and political identity are becoming important and they are increasingly underpinned by a story about the relationship between Christianity and Islam which many people believe that which is mistaken so what I want to do in the short time I have available to you basically is to talk about what's happened to religion in the modern world and for this purpose I'm going to use mainly statistics which have been collected by a large project that's based at Boston University called the world religion database and most of the data I'm going to show you because they're data from censuses tell you what category of religion people fall into but they don't tell you very much about how important the religion is to them I'll show you a little evidence about that as well but basically I'm going to look at what the share of the world's population is that belongs to different religions and we're going to have to use a bit of imagination to think about how the importance of religion to different people varies across time and across the world but what I'm going to show you is that the first impression you get from those numbers is very misleading and you have to dig a little bit deeper in ways that I will explain then I'm going to go on to talk about what we actually know about the way in which religions compete with each other both historically and in the modern world and then I'll try to sum up and I will keep close eye on the time in order to make sure we have plenty of time for questions so let's start with what those census numbers show there have been very big changes in the shares of the population who belong to different world religions since 1950 now I could go back to 1900 but the data are not quite so reliable and I think that if I went back to 1900 what I the story I would tell you would be about the same but we have better data from 1950 and I think already what these data show is very striking so the first impression you get from these data seems to support the story that Islam is advancing and Christianity is retreating let me show you here you have two pie charts which show the first one on the left the share of the world's population in 1950 after the second world war that belonged to different religions and the second on the right shows the share in 2015 the most recent available year and what you will see here the the things that would jump out at you if you were let's say mister salvini or if you were perhaps an op-ed writer for the New York Times and in this respect they pretty much see eye-to-eye is you would see that the share of Muslims has risen from 13.6% to basically 24% here on the right and at the same time the share of Christians in the world's population has fallen from 35% to 33% here over on the right okay so that story seems to support the view is lamas advancing Christianity is retreating why do I want to tell you that that conclusion is almost entirely wrong the reason I want to do that is that you have to understand what happened by looking at its very different distribution across regions and I'm going to start by giving you the distribution of religions in Asia and in 1950 what you will see is that here the share of Muslims was 18% so very similar to what in the world as a whole and had gone up to 28 percent in Asia in 2015 now Christianity had not retreated in Asia in fact it went up from 3% of the population there to 9% here but the key point is it started very small okay now Asia was the fastest-growing region in the world over the next 65 years and Christians started with a very small share of that little fast-growing population they increased their share they tripled their share but there were always going to be many many babies born in the world who had no chance of being Christian and the main explanation for why the share of Christianity fell over the next 65 years was demographic they simply were not located in the part of the world that was going to expand the most if you want to compare you can now look at a very different region of the world and here the action is fascinating because what you will see is once again Islam in Africa which had 36 percent of the population rose to 42 percent of the population but look what happened to Christianity it began at 21 percent and it rose to a spectacular 48 percent of the African population now that didn't amount to very much at the world scale because Africa in 1950 was a small share of the world's population it grew very fast and it's now a big share but then it was very small so if both Islam and Christianity were expanding who was losing and the answer is these people here who are what the world religion base calls ethno religionists these were the people who belong to local folk religions often religions of the forest and the mountain and the riverbanks that are very important for people in villages in particular but have no global reach those religions got massive squeezed out and not only in Africa in China - s no religionists were a big part of the population in 1950 and they had shrunk dramatically by 2015 so the explanation for why Christianity grew so slowly was that it was basically concentrated in two kinds of regions the large but slowly growing regions and the fast growing regions that were small but the large fast growing regions were ones where by the accidents of history there were more Muslims by far than Christians so our first explanation of this phenomenon is that demographics were really involved and one of the ways in which you can understand the power of demographics is by taking the shares of religions in 1950 and projecting them forwards to 2015 and saying what would we have expected to be the shares of the different religions in 2015 if each religion had grown at the same rate as the population of the country in which its members lived and so the predicted shares are the ones that demography can explain and the difference between the predicted shares and the actual shares have to be explained by something else so here are the relevant chants the one on the left shows that you would have expected Muslims to be 20% of the world's population and in fact they were 24% so indeed they have grown faster than expected but you would only have expected Christians to make up 27% of the world's population so that their actual share of 33% represents an astonishing increase compared to what demography would have predict so let's try and take a step back and say what's the big story here the big story is not about an ideological struggle between Christianity and Islam in which Islam is winning the reason why Islam has expanded faster than Christianity is that it just was concentrated in poor parts of Asia which had high population growth that's it the big story which everybody is missing is a story about religion becoming corporatized and branded everywhere across the world but particularly in Africa and in Asia the folk religions the local religions the religions of the village and the small town have been replaced by branded and corporately organized religions some of which are also actually organized as franchises so the Assemblies of God where I met my young friend in Ghana is actually a franchise operation of an American church but even without franchising the many of the churches that are indigenous to Africa are using an idea or a brand that has been developed elsewhere now there's a separate story which I don't have time to go into now but I would be happy to consider in questions about the fact that Catholicism Roman Catholicism has been on the decline in relation to other Christian denominations and we can talk about that but that's not my subject right now but overall there is no doubt that Christianity has expanded very much more than other religions even more than Islam because of this corporatization and it can be expected to do so in the future in China in particular although it's very difficult to get reliable statistics and the Chinese government really doesn't want you to know this it seems likely that there are more members of Protestant churches than there are members of the common party so that is a really really big change in China which is going to have massive consequences in the years to come now this process that I described is corporatization process is not just a matter of getting people to sign up for your church it's also a matter of getting them very involved and committed to your church and what we see is that this process particularly in Africa but also in parts of Latin America and Asia is associated with much higher levels of commitment to people's religious activities than they have been in the past so for example if you look here you'll first see some contrasts between Europe and low income Africa this is sub-saharan Africa not the whole African continent I showed you before and just to change things I've shown you data back to 1900 and then through 1970 and 2015 and these show you basically the phenomenon I described before which was big decline in Christianity in in in Europe but a big increase in Christianity in Africa from a negligible percentage in 1900 to about half the continent in 2015 but a much bigger phenomenon than that is what is shown here from the world value survey this was in the wave that was conducted between 2010 and 2014 where people are asked how important is religion in your life and what you see here is that the difference is amazing in Europe about a quarter of the population here over here on the right says religion is not at all important in their lives about 20 percent say that it's very important in their lives in Africa almost nobody says it's not at all important tiny proportions here I'm not getting much light from my but here you can see and in Africa 70 percent of the population say religion is highly important in their lives this is a massive social phenomenon and it's one we need to understand him in fact Harvey Cox the Harvard theologian wrote in 2011 something I think we all need to bear in mind he said today Christianity is living through a Reformation that will prove to be even more basic and more sweeping than the one that shook Europe during the 16th century that earlier Reformation was confined to one small corner of the globe the current Reformation however is an earth circling one it is shaking foundations more dramatically than its 16th century predecessor and its results will be more far-reaching and radical so let's take another step back and say what are the main mechanisms through which religions have competed with each other historically so the first thing is I'm sure you will all know and indeed Italy was one of the places in which this happened most spectacularly was that historically religions have competed through war and conquest and that was overwhelmingly the main form of religious competition until at least the late 19th century a second mechanism which you can think of as competing for resources is basically differential population growth and that was as I hope to have convinced you the main form of religious competition in the 20th century and you might think therefore that actually it's the only form of religious competition that counts but here's the surprise demographically the world is converging the reason why Islam and Christianity had such different demographic energy was that the countries in which they were found were at different points on a process of transformation which we know that all countries go through and The Economist's in the audience will smile when I say that there is one iron law of economics which holds everywhere and it is not the law of demand it is the law that says that if you educate girls and you allow them to work for money they want to have fewer children that one I know of no exceptions to and I'm going to show you something very startling which most people don't realize you all know that China's fertility fell dramatically in the years around the adoption of the famous indeed notorious one-child policy what you may not know and indeed many people don't know is that exactly the same thing happened to Iran ten years later and these are the curves from the World Bank open data based you can just go and google it yourself which show the movement of the fertility rate in China which started falling in the late 1960s actually before the one-child policy and which took 24 years to go from 6 children per woman to 2 children per woman and to the right is the curve in Iran which took only 16 years to go from 6 children per woman to 2 children per woman it's astonishing because you might say these were two countries that had completely opposite approaches to fertility China telling its population to try to restrain fertility Iran trying to encourage it but in the policies that counted which was the education of girls they basically did the same thing and that was what mattered so everywhere throughout the world whatever the bishops may say whatever the Imams may say whatever the rabbis may say girls who are educated and who can work will have fewer children and so by the time we've reached the middle of the 21st century we conferred get about demographic competition it's not going to matter very much except at the edges what is going to matter is persuasion and it's what we can think of as persuasion in the market now a lot of people misunderstand me when I say this I'm not saying that most of the action is going to take place through Muslims deciding to become Christians or vice-versa though there will be some of that more than the Imams and the bishops would like you to believe there will be some but that's not the main thing the main thing is going to be the conversion of essentially not very committed not very lukewarm people who have rather lukewarm people who have a nominal commitment to religion into enthusiastic active and fee-paying members of that religion and it is the dominance of this mechanism the persuasion in the market that I think is the outstanding religious fact of the twentieth and soon the 21st centuries so that's the message I want you to take away at home from the the talk today I have maybe 15-20 minutes left and so in the time I have left I want to talk more about how this religious competition actually happens but if you take nothing else away from the talk I want you to take away the message that the picture of Christianity on the retreat and Islam on the rise is almost entirely mistaken whatever the populist smae tell you Christianity is in more vigorous shape than it has ever been in its history I'm not finished actually thank you so what can we say about this process of competition in the market and here I'm going to be able to do no more than just give you a few taster pieces of evidence about the way in which these corporatized and branded religions operate so I'm going to use quite a lot of examples from the evangelical and Pentacostal astir ch's that i've studied in ghana and other places but you should not think that i'm only interested in those you would be surprised that many of the things that i say apply to other churches other religions i'll mention one or two of those later but the important thing to note is that what most of these corporate religious organizations sell is not just a theology it's not just a set of beliefs it is a theology it is a set of beliefs but it is not only a set of beliefs what they mostly offer is a complex bundle of different kinds of services and some of those services compete or appear to compete directly with what ordinary secular firms can supply so you know of course after all it was a big selling point of the Catholic religion in Italy that the church is involved in education and has been since the since very early in the history of the Christian Church but of course you will also know that Islam is very heavily involved in in in education also in the provision of health but also the provision of finance insurance lending and business networking and something I'm going to tell you about in a few minutes with some examples which is actually in the arrangement of marriages now some of these services compete directly on the home territory of secular providers so for example Shriya aya has just produced a wonderful book from Harvard University Press called the economics of religion in India in which she documents many of the things the transformations that are going on in Hindu in the Hindu religion which have some surprising points in common with the process I'm describing here and India as you know he's also a major Muslim country and so she has been involved in discussing with the people who run madrasas how they operate and how the madrassas compete with the provision of education by the Indian government some of you may know that there is a big problem in India of quality control in education in villages in particular because a big problem in India is that the teachers often don't show up to work and one of the things that the parents of kids who who they sent to madrasahs will tell you is they'll say the reason we want our kids to go to the madrasa is not because of anything about the ideas they're learning in fact we'd like them to do a bit more computer science please and a little bit less of the Quran the main reason we're sending them is that if you go to the madrasa the teacher shows up okay now if you're in India that's a big deal that's a really big deal and so in some respects the you can see the competition between the madrassas in India and the secular schools in India is just a head-to-head competition on the basis of quality but I want to tell you that the main mechanism that's going on is something more complex than that it's the fact that all of these services I've described depend upon trust and they depend upon trust in a way that many of the major religions have figured out a way to offer and which many secular competing institutions have not been able to master in particular it's the fact that the religions can induce their members sincerely to make sacrifices for the church community that makes them more trustworthy in the eyes their fellow-citizens and that is a big part of the story here is a fascinating remote quote from Jerry Falwell who's the preacher of a major evangelical church in the United States cited in a book published in 2000 business he said is usually on the cutting edge of innovation and change because of its quest for finances therefore the church would be wise to look at business for a prediction of future innovation the greatest innovation in the last twenty years is the development of the giant shopping centers here is the synergetic principle of placing at least two or more services at one location to attract the customers a combination of services of two large customers with small supporting stores has been the secret of the success of shopping centers sometimes when I talk about the economics of religion people will say to me you're just an economist projecting your theory onto what people do that's not how they think of it at all how can we expect to believe you when you say that well I'm sorry mr. Farwell is thinking of the job in exactly those terms and many of the people who run these large churches are exactly aware of what they're doing in fact I would say that many of the major religious entrepreneurs have no need to come to this talk they know everything that's in it okay it's just those of us who are not part of this business that need to be aware of what's happening so let's think a little bit more about how the services provided by religion actually function and in particular why is it so important to sell them in a bundle well there is by now quite an old theory of religion it's a very fine and and useful one which is the theory of clubs it says was developed by Larry Yana Kearney in the early 1990s and this sees churches as basically private clubs that provide exclusive services to their members and the important point is they charge high prices because the high prices are a signal of the high quality of the services you will get and now there's been a lot more work since Jana Kony wrote and quite a lot of it supports his view but also makes us think that there's more going on than just the club good story first of all and I've already mentioned stria ayahs book on Hinduism many religions have expanded the services they provide in direct response to the failure of the modern states to deliver services of the quality that an increasingly educated population demands so that's true for health services it's true for education services it's true for financial services like insurance the difficulty with looking only at those kinds of services is two things one is that these services seem very expensive so let's think back to my young friend in the church in Accra she is paying nearly twelve percent of her very very low income to this very rich pastor is that really what seems like a competitive price for the services she's getting I'll come back to that question later but it seems high so what's going on the second thing is that profits for some of these churches seem very high when I was in Accra I was invited to dinner in the most exclusive neighborhood of Accra and my host lived in a very large house that probably costs a couple of million dollars and was surrounded by even larger houses and she said my next-door neighbor on the left is a pastor my next-door neighbor on the right is a pastor my next-door neighbor behind is a pastor she said I'm the only non pastor in this particular street so many of these churches are making large profits but entry barriers are low I mean you know this is Protestantism you don't have to get the Pope to approve you know I could do it you could in fact I'm thinking at the end of the talk of having a thing here you can come and give some money and we maybe start breaking out into song but on the other hand think I'd be very good at it and these people are very good at it and I want to know why and I want to know what's the what's the ingredient it's not just sort of sex appeal its though there it is as well but it's not just sex appeal it's there is something about the business model which makes a difference so the view that I've been developing with some of my colleagues that I'll name and thank later is essentially that we should think of many of these religious organizations not just as clubs but as platforms now what do platforms do we're very used to platforms like Facebook and Google and so on what platforms do is they typically put members in touch with each other and many of these churches offer bundles of services for which it really matters that you interact with people who are trustworthy I'm going to give you some examples in in a second so the key point about what happens when platforms compete with each other is that they never just sell each of their goods in head-to-head competition with non platform suppliers of the same service what happens is that they put different groups of users in touch with each other and that's what many of these religious organizations do they use the fact that you're seriously willing to go to church listen to a three-hour sermon put a lot of your money in the collection box to show that you're a reliable interlocutor a reliable partner in all sorts of activities that go from business interaction to marriage and the important point is that these services aren't just spiritual services and they're not just secular services they're both and it's the fact that they're offered together that really matters it's because the people you trust in the market for the secular services are the people who genuinely demand the spiritual services and that's the magic ingredient that no secular competitor can offer and in the last I guess 10 minutes I'm going to give you some examples from the search that my colleagues and I have been conducting in Ghana again I don't want Ghana is not the world but they're examples that I think you could probably project to many other countries in many other places and many other times so first of all in parallel with the findings that shreya ayah has found in India for Hinduism with churches offering education health finance we established that many of the people going to these churches in Ghana are getting a form of implicit insurance and the way we did it was that we basically called a lot of people into a non-religious place it was actually a hall of the Central University College in in Ghana and we gave them some money and we said you can do what you like with the money you can keep it you can give it to your church you can give it to a secular charity we gave them a choice of secular charities and we this was anonymous so we didn't people could do it entirely secretly and we only therefore know the average statistics we don't know who gave what but we compared two groups one group was just an ordinary group and the other group was like the ordinary group but we gave them some insurance in particular in Ghana one of the biggest financial shocks you can have is when somebody in your family dies and you have to bury them funerals are super expensive in fact the Ghana coffin industry is one of the most is one of the world leaders in extravagantly designed coffins it's an art form and and very profitable art form - and so we offered half of our people insurance against the death of a family member so you would not have to pay for the funeral and guess what the people to whom we gave insurance gave less of their money to the church and we interpret that as a sign that they expect to be to have less risk as a result of the money that they do give to the church and if we've protected them against some of the risk they have less need to give money to the church now um so we showed actually I'm gonna give up a bit because I want to keep the suspense in the next slide which is the slide I really like so this was you know if you like the churches in the market for insurance it seems like an ordinary secular market and they just happen to be doing a good job though but people said to us you know what you should you should look at is we think a lot of people put in energy and money to the church because they want to find a marriage partner so we had a questionnaire we asked people what are the reasons why you benefit from going to your church and we gave them like 15 reasons and one of them was to find a marriage partner for myself or for my children if you know you were already made well almost nobody wanted to admit to that they said no no it was like reason number 14 but then we thought we you know maybe you should ask it a bit differently so we also asked them in the question are you married if you're married where did you meet your spouse well guess what an awful lot of them met their spouse in church then we said if you're not married where do you think you will meet your spouse and a surprising number said we think we'll meet a spouse in church so here are the actual numbers and one extra very intriguing finding which is that okay only 5% say explicitly they go to church to find a marriage partner but 28% of those who are married found their spouse in church 48% of our population are single and 60% of those expect to meet their spouse in church now if you compare the men and the women of sorry if you compare the men in that group take the men who say they think they'll meet their spouse in church over half of them 57% of them had paid tithes that's the less expected to pay 10 percent of their income to the church and they'd paid tithes that month when we asked them but those who didn't expect to meet their spouse only 26% had paid so I think it's reasonable to expect that some of these young men think their ties as partly a subscription payment to a very effective mechanism for meeting marriage partners now let's go back a little bit to my young friend in Akron she has a pretty awful life and almost certainly the only realistic way out of her awful job and her awful life is to meet a man that she can marry and who will help her to find an alternative but how do you do that in a cry a cries a jungle do you go to singles bars do you go on the Internet where is she going to find a man who will not beat her up who will not leave her pregnant and abandon her who will treat her decently and with some degree of respect and and love well church doesn't seem like a bad bet and 12% of her income doesn't seem like an unreasonable investment to make when you think also of many of the other benefits that come from the church but and this is the really important point if you were to ask her what kind of man she wants to meet she's not gonna say I want to meet the kind of man who goes to church to find a wife she's going to say I want to meet a man who goes to church because he believes in the teachings because he subscribes to the moral values because he is willing to take part in the activities because he will become a Sunday school leader because he sings well in the choir too and it would help if he was nice and good-looking and fitted me well but all of those things in other words tell us that the church is not competing on the same territory as the internet dating agencies it has an ability to bring people together for the purpose of finding marriage partners because that's not the only reason they go there I'm being wander that I have to get a move on but I'm near the end don't worry so now I would want to emphasize that when you ask people the reason why they admit to going to church they 62% of them say that they would ask a pastor for help regarding family issues so of course my young friend if she's going to find a husband she would like a husband who is in touch with the pastor who will get help for family issues when problems arise as they surely will and that seems like a pretty smart thing for her to want to do so anyway the the key point is that you won't understand the church's success in selling finance and in selling the ability to meet marriage partners if you think of these as separate demands they're tied together finally here I just want to show you a different form of trust which the church can establish this and is based on a survey of all of the the people that we talked to that took part in our in our experiments when we asked them would you prefer that either your close friends your co-workers who your business partners were members of your church and what you see basically is that a small proportion about 10 percent say they would only interact with church members but a good 40 percent say they would prefer to interact with church members so the church is also acting as a form of reassurance to people that those that they do business with are reliable and trustworthy there's a lot more I mean I can tell you about the healing ministry and lots of other things and maybe we can discuss this in in the in the question answer but I don't really have time to go into more of the detail but this just gives you a little bit of a flavor of why it is that in a society with so few alternatives for meeting people that you can trust these churches are so spectacularly successful so this is my second last slide we're getting to the end a key point to remember about platform competition is that the models the business models are very diverse the result of this is that people who make a success of a business model become very well known you can all name the CEO of Facebook how many of you could name the CEO of BMW or Fiat or P it's probably easier actually here but but still you know lots of I mean do you know who's the CEO of the firm you bought your washing machine from I have no idea but these platform leaders because so much depends upon the visibility of their platform strategy these are very well-known people so um entrepreneurs in the platform business have something which other business leaders Envy but not just other business leaders also entrepreneurs in other domains of life that compete with these platforms like political parties like financial institutions like schools like secular charities they want some of that religious action and that is why increasingly clever political entrepreneurs are deciding that this model is something that they can learn from and possibly benefit from directly so many entrepreneurs in other spheres especially in politics want to appropriate some of the benefits of that religious competition there's nothing intrinsically wrong with their doing that but we need to understand that that's what they're doing so let's wrap this up the big story of the 20th century and I really want to emphasize this was not an ideological struggle between Christianity and Islam that was an artifact of the distribution of religions in mid-century between parts of the world that were at very different stages in their demographic transition the big story is that religious life is becoming corporatized and branded and it's all those folk religions everywhere that are being displaced by essentially organized versions of the two main world brands I can talk a bit more about Hinduism and and later of course folk religions don't go away some of them get reborn in California and other places but essentially folk religions are at the margins today okay they're folkloric they're not really where the action and the influence and in particular the revenues are to be found but if we want to understand these forms of competition it's not it's no good to say oh you know my young friend and a crush she's she's deceived she's naive she's she doesn't know what she's doing she knows exactly what she's doing she's more lucid than I am in the way I manage my finances I'm not going to criticize her I want to understand what she's doing and I think that it's by understanding these religions as having learned something about platform competition that we can come to understand what is going to be the shape of religious competition in the 21st century religion is not going away it's here to stay it's more dynamic and vigorous than it has ever been in our history so we had better get used to it thank you very much testamentary so whether John Romano do Imani Casey Alison Odessa COMESA P amo el momento and la demanda a queen d prego so Paul I mean there was a fascinating presentation but there's something you left out and it would have press unit okay so you're describing modern religion as some kind of social capital or some people will call it like that and you describe the corporatization and the branding and this is really really a wonderful depiction of it but what you haven't really said very much about if this this transformation are going to lead to forms of competition between these religions which you talked about a great deal there are nasty and the question is what do you predict this transformation imply for religious tolerance which is a central part of religious competition which is you compete but you compete by certain rules and those rules do not include the kind of things that we see happening more and more in the Middle East in India and now in Europe now you're right that I deliberately avoided that I I knew that in the time available this was a kind of worms that I couldn't easily open but you very kindly opened it for me it's a have to answer no no you don't know exactly so thank you John I what what I would like to say is first of all let's keep some sense of perspective religious competition up until really very recently was as nasty as it god I mean I live in the in in the southwest of France where long before the Protestant Reformation there was something called the Cathar heresy and in particular there's a phrase in the French language which has become famous for cuneta Lucia and God will recognize his own and the story behind that phrase is that when the church and the French crown cynically allied to try and destroy the cafe heretics because the the the crown wanted more revenues from the the the local Lords who didn't send enough tax revenue to Paris and the church was afraid that the heretics were going to undermine the revenues from the sale of indulgences and so that the very vicious unpleasant crusade was launched against them and many of them were were tortured and destroyed and burned and all sorts of things and in one particularly awful episode a man called Simon d'amour for who was a cousin of the founder of the English Parliament cornered some heretics in the city of busy where they sought refuge in the cathedral and the captain of his troupe of of guards who was obviously a rather nice man came to the came to see me on the morrow and said what are we going to do all the heretics have taken refuge in the cathedral and so C Mon Amour father said well you kill them and so this was in a tough for the captain and he said well okay but he said but there are also many loyal true Christians who are in there what are we going to do about that how will we know who is a true Christian and who is a heretic and Seamon them off or memorably said kill them all God will recognize his own hook on it fellows young so you know um religious competition was pretty nasty for pretty much all of the history of religion and I would venture to say that it has been less nasty on average in the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century then at all previous historical periods now that doesn't mean that the relatively quiet period is going to stay quiet and of course you're right that there are some very alarming developments among the developments come in particular the you might think the use of social media to appeal to a particular a particularly vindictive and sadistic set of desires in and to essentially recruit people through the use of very shocking and unpleasant images but again if you wanted if you attempted to think that this is the first time in history that we've seen this I would invite you to visit the southwest of France where the Jerell in Alby contains a set of frescoes I don't know if you've seen them job but they're some of the most pornographic frescoes I've ever seen him in pornographic in the violent sense because they demonstrate for the benefit of the faithful after the end of the war against the Cathars exactly what would await them in hell if they were tempted by heresy again so I would say that the use of visual and pornographically visual imagery to recruit people with the appropriate sadistic impulses is again not new now and it sounds like I'm kind of escaping the the question because I mean I think the questions too large to answer but you're absolutely right there are some very worrying developments they are not completely new and I think that in trying to figure out how we can keep those impulses under control because as you're right there is no I mean there is no Department of Justice Antitrust Division that is handling competition between religions we urgently need to think about institutions at both national and supranational level that can help to do that but I mean one big change would be for example accepting that religions are businesses like any other and that they should publish accounts I mean even simple things like that would help I think to realize that we're dealing with people who have a legitimate enterprise but because they have a legitimate enterprise ought also to give some kind of account to these societies in which they live I'm sorry I haven't answered your question fully but it's a big one as you as you well knew thank you okay okay la demanda questa Joan nice bit nel million total escrito luminita Stepashin una grande a seller as your name tell me TECA no Gracia there are saloum Anita demon tequila spirit paleta nation' problem lediko quest perky it's your party capital researcher in a mean of a center of anta say Francis Fukuyama can attend toe in India JJ a script or liberal future comedy beer to society contributes Connor a Christian whispers Purita adesso the Pollard Amanda Ultima Libre Fukuyama identity' el libro de pensar may see a gala finish a star wind said the colloquy mediator that the young co-star would Nintendo la demanda the spirituali tan si so he know in questionable Destructo capital esoteric Arad Amanda a photography I'm not sure if I have completely understood the question so you should not hesitate to correct yes no I what I understood is that you said that we have made a mistake in neglecting the spiritual aspect of our societies and that the recent resurgent in religion is a response to that perceive neglect is that is that the correct interpretation of your question well okay good so um I think my my answer to that is that it's very clear that a need for spirituality has been a part of all human societies of which we have any reliable records it's not something that all individuals feel but that many individuals feel in all societies and although we see major variations between societies in between periods of history in the extent to which people express that that need we can safely say that there have been no periods in history in which societies on a large scale have been able to do without the spiritual aspects of religion altogether and most attempts to try and drive religion out have ended in inglorious failure now I think that's all correct I don't think it helps us particularly in understanding which kinds of pursuit of the spiritual benefits of religion will end up being compatible with peaceful coexistence of those who have different convictions and I the question that was asked by Joel McCrea before essentially puts its finger on that crucial point which is that you may feel a need for spiritual expression which is different from the need for spiritual expression felt by somebody else who lives in your town in your country and the crucial point is that your need for that spiritual enrichment has to be made compatible with your sharing of physical space with somebody else whose need is expressed differently from yours so I don't think that there's a problem in acknowledging that the need for spiritual enrichment will be felt in all societies at all times but it will be felt in different and nobody should think that they have a right to expel others from their city or from their country because those others experience the need for spiritual enrichment differently from them and I think that's the crucial challenge for us in some sense in a world in which populations move around the option of spiritual homogeneity within a society is no longer on the table we can either live peacefully or we coexist violently we can't have homogeneous spirituality within any realistic political organization psychometrist are two for soon difficult study comparison and it's also located let's say less of this fat odorless pasta you have you have been talking at great length and it was very interesting about what's happening between religions in developing countries I would be very curious if this is you think it's interesting to have perhaps a picture of what's going on in developed country because I am under the impression that people of no religion are on the rising as well people that just don't believe any of it and perhaps taking a cue from what you said they are also because they don't need any of the safety net that you described and then they are three to think in other ways thank you yes I think you're right and it's true that at a world level there has been an increase in the share of the world's population that profess no religion at least from ninety 50 to about 2,000 now interestingly the if you actually look at the world statistics on the number of atheists and agnostics the largest increase in that share was due to Mao Zedong and not to Voltaire it was essentially it occurred in the People's Republic of China for the reasons that we know and we also know that it's part of the consequence of the implosion of trust in the Communist Party that the numbers of people joining evangelical and Pentacostal astir ch's in China is is very spectacularly on the rise in spite of the significant attempts at repression by the the Chinese government but you're right that in many parts of the world Europe Scandinavia in particular there is a rise in agnostics and atheists and I think you're also right that not only is it true that it's easier not to belong to a church in a society that has a social safety net and reasonably good public education and so forth but also I would say that those societies make it easier for people to get their spiritual enrichment from alternative sources so spiritual enrichment is obviously a tricky concept to define I mean I personally don't believe in in a in a God and I would say I some of what I think of a spiritual enrichment includes things like answering questions about what is our what are our origins where do we come from and what moral values are consistent with what we know about our origins and so on and that is something that's easier for me to get in a context in which I don't need to join a church for my other material benefits obviously if I go to if I'm a citizen of a country that has no social safety net where I the only people who will look after me who are sick of my members of my church then it's also more likely that I will be inclined to believe what members of my church also believe about where the world came from what are the sources of moral values and so on so I think you're exactly right that in some sense and in fact it's something I've tried to argue quite a lot which is that often we make a mistake to think that people join a church because of what they believe in theological terms and then they get lots of other social benefits I think a lot of people join the church for social benefits and then the theology comes along with it and they may be quite sincere in signing up to the theology but I think a lot of people join the church without having really figured the theology out and they then form a view about the theology as a consequence of their joining the institution and of course if the incentives are different for joining different institutions then the theological consequences will be different as well yeah thank you for representation arraigning on the topic of developed countries I was wondering today that we see that social welfare states have been kinda struggling under austerity measures and under the global financial crisis and other governments are facing more difficulties in intervening in the societies and facing the needs of the population do you think it also in developed countries we will see and again arising religiosity in spirituality may be a different form of churches and of religious aggregation or you think that indeed in the developed part in Western societies the richer societies this part about these type of aggregation is something that should be will be let in the past sorry no I mean you're you're right that's a very interesting question and of course as I'm sure you know very well the the secularization trend that was evident in Europe for much of the 20th century was not perceived in the United States and in fact most historical work now suggests that far from experiencing a degree of secularization in the 19th and 20th centuries which then unaccountably was reversed in the late 20th century the United States has actually been becoming progressively more religious throughout its history so very interesting work by the sociologists Finken stark has shown that the proportion of American citizens who went regularly to church has been on the increase more or less continuously since the middle of the 18th century since the founding of the Republic so we know that the United States has never really conformed to this model of relatively lukewarm spirituality and the existence of a social safety net now partly it's because the social safety net has always been weaker in the u.s. so I think the answer to your question is partly going to depend upon whether European societies can maintain the model of solidarity that has been part of the implicit political compact since the Second World War and there I would say you know your guess is as good as mine this is this is as much a matter of political science and and political economy as it is of the the study of religion what I can fairly safely predict is that if fiscal pressures on governments cause a cutting back to a major extent in payments for Social Security unemployment retirement pensions public schooling public health care provision then private suppliers will step in and those private suppliers will include religious organizations whether that will in fact be what happens I think is you know your judgment is as good as mine siamo loss Guderian Ostrow tamposi fortuna demand encourage attempt Oh CJ prego ultimata Wanda Queen prima Fela buona sera you're a wanted woman decay metal in correlation equal okay such a so nay 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like let's see yes that's a really interesting question and I I would have to say that I I don't know enough about the extent to which secular ideologies like Marxism really captured the support of African citizens outside a narrow elite I suspect that it was always a narrow elite but I may be wrong about that and there may be some countries in which the national project which may have been narrowly secular but I'm thinking of Tanzania for example as one example where a sort of ideology of state socialism may well have have captured the the the imagination of a significant part of the population but I actually suspect that it was mainly sort of educated middle class elites who subscribed to those ideologies and that therefore the disappearance of those ideologies I think is only tangentially connected to the rise of particularly evangelical and Pentacostal East Christianity I don't think they were ever really rivals on the same terrain but again I I'm not enough of a specialist in African history to be sure of that and if we turn to the the question in in Europe I mean in some say I'm I mean the trade union movements in Europe clearly had the ability to create a narrative for citizens which was very important in particular at a time when employment in large firms was more common than it is now there was a period in the in the mid 20th century in which you know significant parts of the population worked in large firms and the trade unions were often successful in creating a narrative of people's lives which had what you know classical narratives always do which is a sort of struggle element so the class struggle I mean you know if you if you think of narratives like the the Greek myths you know what does a hero do they spend the first time part of their life in struggle they go out they slay the monster or they fight the Trojan War there and then they come home and there's a homecoming and they're looked after and what trade unions supplied was a narrative which involved initial struggle and then homecoming because they would offer people benefits and when they retired they would be looked after there would be communities and I think in Italy in particular the trade unions and the Communist Party did compete very directly with the church for those for the provision of those narratives and it's true that in many modern industrial democracies that narrative has disappeared I mean you know if you are a driver for uber in many ways I mean you know I talk to lots of you because because I take uber everywhere and lots of them say you know it's it's super convenient I can be flexible and I can work when I wanted time but there's no narrative arc to their lives there's no way in which they're thinking yes I've got a career progression and you know when I retire I'm going to be looked after this is a very opportunistic thing that appeals to them in a sort of dynamic phase of their lives so I do think that and this is getting a bit philosophical and I hope not pretentious that political leaders in Europe will need to find ways to reinvent narratives that capture the imagination of Europe's citizens and that and that's going to be particularly important as people get older I mean nobody wants to believe that when you retire you will be sent to some home in which you're badly treated and neglected and your kids don't come and visit you and then you get sick and neglected even more until you die nobody wants to see their life as having that kind of narrative arc but political leaders have been very short of imagination recently and I think that if there's to be a credible secular rival to the religious narratives which are increasingly being offered to us then we need political leaders who can exercise much more intelligence in imagination than they've shown the ability to do in recent years so thank you for that question Grazia Brava so sobriety glad separately