Research Director Labor & Work-life Program HLS, Harvard University There are many traditions of social science that have registered the impact of religion on economic behavior. Historical sociology has frequently taken the lead through the Weber-Tawney thesis on the rise of capitalism in Western Europe.
Later Maxime Rodinson in Islam et le capitalisme (1966) and Robert Bellah in Tokugawa Religion (1957) expanded these explorations beyond the European heartlands. Through a detailed survey and economic analysis, Syed Nisar Hamdani is seeking to explain how those imbued with religious values may make different economic calculations and responses to crises than those exhibiting a much lower devotion to spiritual beliefs and practices. In recent decades, some economists have come to recognize that the assumption of the rational economic actor, atomized and universalized, can no longer account for the behaviors of people making real-life choices in the market. Dr. Hamdani is continuing to uncover many divergences in economic behavior between the pious and the more secularized elements in South Asia. Though this initial foray is centered on the House of Islam, his project may allow for future analysis of several world religions. Having lived and worked among the people he is studying in Pakistan, Hamdani understands the varieties of religious experience in his native land and can provide sounder foundations for the establishment of what he has called the new field of Divine Economics. With its interdisciplinary aspirations, Divine Economics should be of appeal to those working in a variety of social science traditions. Prof Richard B. Freeman Prof Richard B. Freeman Professor of Economics, Harvard University Faculty Director NBER USA