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The Role of Socio-Economic Factors in People’s Forming and Maintaining Religious Fundamentalist Belief Systems
Author(s): Arina den Besten
Regularly, a connection is made between fundamentalism and poverty or feelings of marginalization. However, it is not clear whether past and current research confirm such a relationship exist. Using a semi-systematic literature review, this thesis studies the role socio-economic factors play in people’s developing and maintaining religious fundamentalist belief systems. A statistically significant relationship with fundamentalism is found for education level, income, employment status, and socioeconomic status. Moreover, many members of fundamentalist movements are economically disadvantaged, experience threats to their socio-economic status, or see their attempts to better their status fail. This thesis discusses furthermore how the relationship between socio-economic factors and fundamentalism can be best conceptualized. It concludes that socio-economic factors are an INUS condition for people’s forming religious fundamentalist belief systems. That is, they are one of the causes of people’s fundamentalist belief systems, but only when other conditions are present. Research
suggests that fundamentalism might be a way for people to cope with uncertainty resulting from poor economic circumstances.