Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 8–29 | Cite as

Religious extremism: Origins and consequences

  • Laurence R. Iannaccone


Economic perspectives enhance our understanding of religious beliefs, activities, and institutions. This essay outlines an economic theory of supernaturalism that accounts for the failure of secularization theories, the contrasting character of religion and magic, and the continued vitality of extremely demanding religious groups. Drawing upon insights that date back to Adam Smith, the theory also explains why extremism and state support often combine to produce religious militancy.


Religious Group Religious Tradition Religious Organization Religious Institution Religious Freedom 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurence R. Iannaccone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsSanta Clara UniversityUSA

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