Market and Money: a critique of rational choice theory

by Peter van der Veer

Working Papers WP 12-01
January 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

The argument of this paper is that market-theories of religion that are based on the notion of ‘rational choice’ do not contribute to our understanding of the transcendental value of money and markets in our social life. Such theories depend on a too narrow interpretation of ‘rationality’, but also neglect the importance of enchantment in financial transactions, consumption patterns, and religious life. The paper addresses studies of religion in China and South Asia to illustrate its theoretical points.

Peter van der Veer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen and University Professor at Utrecht University. He has published widely about religion and nationalism in India and is now engaged in comparative work on India and China.