Political Economy and Religions Working Group

In light of the challenges that contemporary economy and society pose, this working group aims to analyze the primary role played by religions, especially Christianity, Protestantism and Islam, in the creation of alternative thought in the context of European history from the sixteenth century to the present day. In studying this topic, the working group has three core aims :

  1. to enlighten the roots of the historical and foundational aspects of ethical economy, by promoting a supportive economic system based on an equal, capitalist and social well-being that, since the last decade, has begun to establish itself within many logical theories;
  2. to redeem the economic thought from its exclusively pragmatic, rational and mathematical-statistical identity;
  3. to consider religion as an integral part of every human related aspect, including the economic sphere of production and trade. In this sense, it becomes critical to stimulate the public role of religions and to evaluate all the opportunities necessary for the construction of a more collective well-being, against all forms of fundamentalism.

The recent economic and financial crisis, with all its economic and social implications in poor and rich countries, has become a crucial opportunity to reflect on the  errors and the distorting “hidden truths” of capitalism. Moreover it is an opportunity to start a new and different future, capable of changing the method and the paradigm of modern economy, dealing with it in terms of values and the “religious”, especially after the current revolts of the “Arab Spring”. The European Union is not only a geographical entity, but also space, time, history, culture and spirituality that make up and break down into a variable mosaic. It is Greek philosophy, Roman law and Arab culture. The Mediterranean area becomes a new line of action of economic policies by the European Union and a new frontier as well.

In this context, talking about religions in the economy does not mean to attribute to it the restrictive task of production and redistribution in the name of a return to the past. The inclusion of religions in the normativity of economic dialectics should not only be in theoretical terms, but also have the strength of practical application of its axioms and principles, in the name of values and social morals.

The main aim of the working group therefore is to analyse the close ties between the “homo oeconomicus” and the “homo religious” that pervaded our human and world history and identity.

Specifically, the Reform of 1517 of M. Luther, J. Calvin and H. Zwingli, born from the link between Christian tradition and anti-papal modernity, gave value to individual and social ethics aimed at the “secularism” of politics and economy. Yesterday like today, protestant influences in the formation of economic thought were based on the following aspects: vocational Christian awareness connected with secular aspects as well; work and entrepreneurship meant as an expression of the cult of God; the concept of “Beruf” as vocation and position in the society to comply with a sense of duty; wealth to be enhanced and administered with a sense of “social” responsibility; and the promotion of correct forms of capitalism.

Christianity, on the other hand, considered the economy as a means of aggregation and civilization of the world’s people. The fundamental points still today are the concept of private property and means of production finalized at the realization of a common and social good; a balance between the public and private sphere for the creation of economic development; promotion of the principles of common good, universal destination of goods and resources, subsidiarity, solidarity and charity in the normal and ordinary management of the economy and entrepreneurship.

Islamic religious thought has in common with other religions many ethical and social principles. Between radical liberalism and radical socialism, the Islamic economic thought offers an alternative way that encompasses revised aspects of both systems.

The role of religions in the formation of a new economic thought and new guidelines of governmental economic policies in the European globalization, have in recent years been proposed and validated by many economists including as A. Sen, S. Zamagni, L. Bruni, D. Rodrik, J. Viner, D. McCloskey, G. Agamben, J. P. Fitoussi and T. Sedlàcek. In the late 20th century, interest in “economic theology” once again started to grow. For instance, an expression used by Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology is: “all significant concepts of the modern theory of the State (also economic order) are secularized theological concepts” (1922).

The aim of this working group is to develop a research platform for the production and the exchange of ideas, themes and projects that can offer a critical and constructive response to recent literature and towards new research lines. Starting from this point of view, there is the intention to publish Working Papers on the IIPPE web-site and in a specialist Journal.

We would particularly encourage contributions that explore every aspect of the links between economy and religions, in theoretical, practical and purposeful forms, in relation to new models of socio-economic development and a new economic thinking, and from historical and contemporary points of reflection.

The IIPPE Working Group on “Political Economy and Religions” will focus its attention, but not exclusively, on:

  • The link between religions and economic theories in a historical and contemporary perspective.
  • The role of Religions for new models of development at a world level.
  • The importance of ethical finance of religious origin: Christian and Islamic Finance.
  • The role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of religious origin for entrepreneurship.
  • The role of Business Ethics of religious origin.
  • The Catholic Social Teaching for a new reflection on economy, finance and entrepreneurship.
  • The task of economic thought of religious origin in developing countries such as Turkey, Latin America and Asia.
  • The role of Russian Orthodoxy for the socio-economic development in the eastern area.
  • The role of religions for new socio-economic proposals in the European Union.
  • Christianity and Islam as a “religious combination” for economic perspectives between the East and the West of the world.
  • Protestantism, Christianity and business firms in line with “European diversity”.
  • The importance of social economy with religious references: social enterprises and cooperatives in the context of contemporary economic development.

List of Members

  • Salvatore Drago, Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina and Centre Studies “Pio La Torre” on Economy, Law and Society, Palermo, Italy.
  • K. Ali Akkemik, Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Marilina Barca, Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina, Italy.
  • Mohammed Benhamida, Saida University, Faculty of Economics, Algeria.
  • Luca Bufarale, University of Macerata, Italy.
  • Mehmet Bulut, Yildirim Beyazit University, Ankara, Turkey.
  • Masulud Alam Choudhury, International Islamic University of Malaysia.
  • Nazmi Cicek, Anadolu University of Turkey.
  • Marco Sebastiano Cicciò, Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina, Italy.
  • Yadollah Dadgar, Beheshty University of Iran, Department of Economics and Law.
  • Christos Desyllos, Hellenic Open University, England.
  • Marcus Dittrich, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany; and CESifo.
  • Paul Fufulu, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Political Sciences.
  • Koray Goksal, Yildirim Beyazit University, Ankara, Turkey.
  • Moamen Gouda, Graduate School of International and Area Studies (GSIAS), Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), South Korea.
  • John Joyce, International Water Institute of Stockholm.
  • Kemal Kizilca, Faculty of Economics, Ankara University, Turkey.
  • Kristina Leipold, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany.
  • Francesca Romana Lenzi, European University of Rome, Italy.
  • Matthias Meyer-Schwarzenberger, University of St. Gallen of Switzerland.
  • Kerroumia Messen, Saida University, Faculty of Economics, Algeria.
  • Luca Michelini, University of Pisa, Department of Political Sciences, Italy.
  • Vincenzo Naymo, Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina, Italy.
  • Masao Ogaki, Keio University of Tokyo, Japan.
  • Letizia Pagliai, University of Pisa, Department of Political Sciences, Italy.
  • Francesco Poggi, University of Pisa, Faculty of Economics, Italy.
  • Sergio Sardone, Bocconi University, Faculty of Economics, Italy.
  • Ozge Varol, Cankiri Karatekin University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Turkey.


To apply to join IIPPE “Political Economy and Religions” Working Group, please contact: iippe@soas.ac.uk or drago73salvo@tiscali.it