Religion and Society in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Religion and Society in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia

1st Edition

By Carole Rakodi


276 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-04-05
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This book analyses how religion is entangled in people’s lives in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. It provides an introduction to the teachings, practices and values promoted by the main religious traditions in these regions and an overview of the evidence on what religion means to people in terms of their beliefs and religious practices and how it influences their values, attitudes and day-to-day relationships with others, especially their families.

Over the course of the book Carole Rakodi explores similarities and differences between and within religious traditions and identifies some of the key factors that influence and explain the roles played by religion in people’s personal lives and social relationships. A separate companion volume will go on to focus on the social and political roles and relationships of religious groups and organisations.

This book will be of great interest to academics and students working in a range of disciplines, especially sociology, religious studies and development studies but also anthropology, geography and area studies.


"For anyone interested in the meaning and value of religion in the lives of ordinary people in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, this book is an extraordinarily important and valuable one. Rakodi lucidly weaves together a deeply captivating range of insights of how religion intersects with the everyday lives and practices of people in the most religious areas of the world. This book will be immensely helpful for undergraduate and graduate-level instruction as well as researchers in the field, and it demonstrates that while religious change remains arguably the most profound and far-reaching influence on social change in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, it is perhaps the least empirically researched and understood. It also shows that to understand other forms of social change such as economic and political change, lived religion is sine qua non: no one who thinks about these processes of change can ignore this book!" -- Asonzeh Ukah, Associate Professor and Director, Research Institute for Christianity and Society in Africa [RICSA], the University of Cape Town, South Africa

"This book proposes and elaborates some of the basic knowledge that should be an integral part of the analytic framework for much development work what we call, often too loosely, 'religious literacy'. Such a framework, Rakodi argues, includes a basic understanding of beliefs and practices, organization, and ways in which religions relate to society more broadly, and her analysis underscores the complexity and dynamism of each of these categories. The vital roles that religious teachings and expectations play in understandings of wide-ranging norms are linked to the ways in which they shape world views. In short, this thought-provoking work introduces a vital and demanding topic. The lessons it offers have relevance far beyond the development policy field." -- Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University, USA, and Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue

"This book addresses a key gap in religious literacy for all those interested in the nexus between religion and society in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia and beyond. Further, it provides a nuanced, informed and wide-ranging coverage of the links between religion and human development, both conceptually and empirically. A must-read for students of development, religious and area studies." -- Mariz Tadros, Professor, Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

Table of contents



Part 1. The Religion-Society Nexus: Introduction

1. The Entanglements of Religion in Everyday Life

2. Towards A Framework for Analysing the Links Between Religion and Society

Part 2. Religious Beliefs and Their Implications for People’s Lives

3. Religious Beliefs: Sources, Interpretations

4. Religious Beliefs and People’s Lives: Death, Destiny and Wellbeing

Part 3. Religious Practices

5. The Role of Ritual

6. Discipline, Joy and Learning

Part 4. Values, Ethics and Everyday Lives

7. Freedom, Rights and Justice

8. Wellbeing, Poverty and Inequality

9. Gender Equality, Sexuality and The Family

10. Conclusion


About the Author

Carole Rakodi is Emeritus Professor in the International Development Department, School of Government and Society, at the University of Birmingham, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Religion and Development

The Routledge Research in Religion and Development series focuses on the diverse ways in which religious values, teachings and practices interact with international development.

While religious traditions and faith-based movements have long served as forces for social innovation, it has only been within the last ten years that researchers have begun to seriously explore the religious dimensions of international development. However, recognising and analysing the role of religion in the development domain is vital for a nuanced understanding of this field. This interdisciplinary series examines the intersection between these two areas, focusing on a range of contexts and religious traditions.

We welcome book proposals on diverse themes such as faith-based development organisations; religious players in health programming; proselytization and development; religion and the environment; gender, religion and development; religion and post-colonialism; and indigenous communities and development.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Series Editors:

Matthew Clarke, Deakin University, Australia

Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, UK

Nathan Loewen, University of Alabama, USA

Editorial board:

Carole Rakodi, University of Birmingham, UK

Gurharpal Singh, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Jörg Haustein, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Christopher Duncanson-Hales, Laurentian University, Canada

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / General
RELIGION / General
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries