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 27: Religion, development and politics in Nigeria

Insa Nolte


The growing interest in the contribution of religion to development emerges from the neoliberal debate on the role of the state in economic and social provision in divergent ways. While the support of development activities with and through religious groups and organizations1 reflects the general belief that non-state institutions can provide many state services more efficiently than the state, it also transcends the notion that all forms of social progress are measurable in economic terms, or through the quantifiable parameters of good governance. The rise of religion in development discourse also reflects the rise of public religion in a number of developed and developing countries since the late 1970s, which was strengthened by the growth of identity politics – and the decline of secular liberation ideologies – after the collapse of state-based socialism and the democratic transitions of many developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s (Clarke, 2006, pp. 838–9; Nolte et al., 2009, p. 6). Finally, the vocal engagement of religious organizations in the development debate in the USA and Europe, for example in the debate about the Millennium Development Goals and debt relief, has raised awareness of the potential relevance of religious contributions to development (Clarke, 2007, pp. 79–81).

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