Religion and Development

Ways of Transforming the World

July 2011 9781849041393 320pp
Temporarily out of stock
July 2011 9781849041409 320pp
Temporarily out of stock


Until recently, policy-makers and academics generally saw religion as something that would disappear as countries made economic progress.

But we now know that this rarely happens.  People in most countries continue to look at the world through the prism of religion even when they develop modern lifestyles.

Religion and Development looks at the ways in which a religious worldview influences processes of development.  Its great originality is that it does not concentrate primarily on religious institutions and organisations but on religious ideas themselves.  In the final analysis, it is people’s ideas that motivate them. Their worldview stimulates them to act in specific ways.  Religion is a dimension of life that often lies behind qualities such as social trust and cohesion that are vital to development.  This is of growing importance in a world where technocratic visions of development have lost their way.  For communities where religious belief is accepted as a fact of everyday life, religion constitutes a major resource.  It can be employed by people who want to destroy society as well as those who want to build it.

The contributors to this book explore how religious resources can be harnessed for development, debating the idea that the material advancement of both individuals and communities is inseparable from their spiritual improvement.


‘As the contributors to this volume argue, if development is to succeed, development policies must truly be integral in scope.  Religion, therefore, cannot be excluded from the debate. I am delighted that this book is being published. I urge that everyone involved in the theory and practice of development to take its insights to heart’. — James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank

‘This volume is a welcome addition to an important and emerging new subject area in development studies. Essential reading for those who want to better understand the complex, challenging and, at times, fraught relationship between religions and development in the South.’ — Gurharpal Singh, Deputy Director, Religions and Development Research Programme, University of Birmingham

‘Effectively pushes forward the dialogue on development and religion … It is the attention to such substantial issues by diverse and thoughtful voices that makes this volume an important one for scholars of religion and public life.’ – Sociology of Religion


Gerrie ter Haar is Professor of Religion and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (IS) in The Hague, part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She has written on religious developments in many parts of the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Her work has been published in at least seven languages.

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