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Religion and Spirituality between Capital and Gift

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Abstract The main concern of this paper is the question of what sociological concepts are appropriate to describe resources derived from religious participation and belief. I test two possibilities: first, the capital paradigm and second, the gift theory. The former has the inconvenience that it contains instrumentalist connotations suggesting people invest in religion in order to reach particular ends. The latter focuses heavily on social bonds articulated on a three-dimensional gift system (vertical, horizontal and longitudinal), overshadowing benefits that reach beyond the ambit of religion. This paper discusses the possibility of combining the two approaches, maintaining the idea of religious and spiritual capital, not in terms of intentionally pursued advantages, but as by-products of religious and spiritual interest.

Affiliations: 1: Institut de sociologie, Université de Neuchâtel Faubourg de l’Hôpital 27,CH-2000 Neuchâtel Switzerland


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