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Corruption, religion and moral development

Marquette, Heather (2010) Corruption, religion and moral development. Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

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URL of Published Version: http://www.religionsanddevelopment.org/files/resourcesmodule/@random454f80f60b3f4/1274702497_Working_Paper_42_complete_for_web.pdf

Identification Number/DOI: ISBN: 0704427818/ 9780704427815


Lacking in much of the current research on religion and corruption is a sense that there may be alternative ways that people view corruption, which in their minds may be moral, and that if we are to truly develop an understanding of how religion influences people’s attitudes and behaviour towards corruption, we must start from a critical and interpretive perspective at the individual level of analysis. This paper argues that the methodologies used in many current studies are not adequate to study what is ultimately an individual decision, and one that is at least in part informed by a person’s own ethical and moral standpoint. As such, starting research with the mindset that particular types of activities are corrupt, and thus ‘wrong’, may prevent researchers from uncovering why people develop particular attitudes to corruption, or why they choose to behave in a way labelled by some as corrupt.
If corruption research is to explore some of these issues at the individual, as well as the regional and national levels, it is important to learn from existing work that examines how attitudes are formed, both on religion and the impact that religion has on attitudes to moral issues and on moral reasoning. A number of studies, few of which deal specifically with corruption, are reviewed in order to establish useful ways forward for corruption researchers.

Research on religion and attitudes towards deviant behaviour shows that individuals’ interpretation of messages on moral behaviour is significant in determining their acceptance or rejection of deviancy. However, there is little evidence to suggest that the religious reject behaviour that is ‘anti-social’ any more than the non-religious. Indeed, there is little evidence to suggest that religion, in terms of religious content, impacts upon individuals’ attitudes to public morality. Membership of a religious community
that rejects behaviour seen as being ‘corrupt’ seems more likely to have an impact, but a lot depends upon whether members of the community are encouraged to use religious principles to think through moral issues, or to interpret religious teachings literally.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Number of Pages:30
Department:International Development Department
Projects:Religions and Development Research Programme
Series/Collection Name:RaD Working Papers Series
Keywords:Corruption, Religion, Moral Development
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Related URLs:
Copyright Status:University of Birmingham, 2010
Copyright Holders:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1649

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