The Godfather

What has come to be known in contemporary circles as the economics of religion is dominated more by Smith's paradigm than by Weber's. That is, the connection, if any, between economic development and forms of religion has taken a back seat to the specification of individual economic/religious behavior founded on the maximization of utility. The person most responsible for redirecting economics to all manner of extra-market activity is Gary Becker, who pioneered a utility-maximizing model of household behavior based on full-price notions of demand and supply. In a sustained flow of intellectual creativity, Becker applied economic analysis to such wide ranging and diverse topics as family, crime and punishment, addiction, marriage, fertility, altruism, egoism, and sui-cide.31 Although religion is not one of the subjects that engaged Becker directly, the economics of religion, in its present form, may aptly be described as a "Beckerian" enterprise. In this enterprise, as in any academic endeavor, the results of investigation depend in large measure on the questions being asked.

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