Handbook of Research on Development and Religion
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Handbook of Research on Development and Religion

Edited by Matthew Clarke

With eighty percent of the world’s population professing religious faith, religious belief is a common human characteristic. This fascinating and highly unique Handbook brings together state-of-the-art research on incorporating religion into development studies.
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Chapter 17: Religion in the policy domains of international financial institutions

John Rees


This chapter considers the issue of religion and development via the growing relations between religious groups and international financial institutions (IFIs). A specific focus will be to analyse the engagement with faith institutions and communities by the World Bank, arguably the most influential IFI in world politics. Specifically, the chapter will examine four issues. First, on the issue of method, a rationale is offered for why religion is an important focus in development theory and practice, and by extension, why placing religion at the forefront of the analysis offers unique insights into development discourse. Second, on the issue of development institutions, this approach is modelled by understanding the central policy platforms of the World Bank through the terms of religion previously established. Third, on the issue of policy, we examine the multiple and varying influences that allowed religion to enter the discourse and domain of World Bank activity in the 1980s and 1990s. Fourth, on the implications of these events going forward, strengths and limitations of the World Bank’s faith engagement to date are considered.

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