Accepted paper:

What difference does civilisation make?


Chris Hann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

Between globalisation and the policies of the nation-state, regional and local factors, the economic ethic of the world religions continues to shape the behaviour of families and small businesses. Examples from Russia will illustrate the themes of a comparative project just beginning.

Paper long abstract:

Research in economic (business) anthropology will be linked to classical debates in historical sociology. The paper begins by asking whether Max Weber's attribution of a distinctive "Wirtschaftsethik" to the world religions is of any relevance in explaining how families and small businesses cope with economic change in the 21st century. The "crisis" which hit global capitalism from 2008 as a result of irresponsible financialisation has not had a uniform impact across Asia. My new research project (supported by the European Research Council) investigates civilisational economic pluralism with reference to China (Confucianism), Burma (Buddhism), India (Hinduism) and Turkey (Islam). Empirical materials derived from the work of Tobias K├Âllner (not part of the new project) will be presented to illustrate patterns in Russia, the fifth designated research site. Additional studies are planned in other regions of Europe characterised by different strands of Christianity. The overall goal is to assess the contemporary significance of civilisational differences - and of the long-term deep unity of Eurasia.

panel P113
Local entrepreneurial responses to global forces: new and alternative enterprise re-configurations in times of crisis and economic hardship (EASA Network for Economic Anthropology)