Money as a Form of Religious Life

in Religion and Society
Author:
Keith Hart University of Kwazulu-Natal, and University of Pretoria johnkeithhart@gmail.com

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As I began writing this piece, a blog post in the Guardian (18 May 2010) asked if “the markets” are our new religion, likening them to a “bloodthirsty god” in primitive religion. Financial markets are the outcome of thousands of independent decisions, but the media oft en speak of them as a single all-knowing entity. Almost a decade earlier, Thomas Frank (2001) published One Market under God and many others have made a similar connection. The editors of this journal approached me to comment on the possible interest the financial crisis might hold for anthropologists of religion. That begs the question of what religion is and what money has to do with it. In what follows I stick to a Durkheimian line on the affinity between money and religion. Its relevance to the current economic crisis must wait for another occasion.

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