Title TBA

Monday, Nov. 25, 2024 (3:30 PM – 5 PM)

Myles Durkee

University of Michigan

We investigated religious conversion in the Dogon of Mali, West Africa. The study population has been exposed to Islam and Christianity since the 1940s, and multiple religions (the traditional Dogon religion, Islam, and Christianity) coexist within the same villages and patrilineages. Among these three religions, the Dogon religion and Islam entailed greater participation expenses than did Christianity. Given that a man’s father practiced the traditional Dogon religion, what factors caused him to stay with his father’s religion or to adopt a new religion? Using individual-level data on 570 men from nine villages, we found that men from poorer families were more likely to adopt Christianity, while men from wealthier families chose Islam or stayed with the Dogon religion. We propose that costly expenses of a religious community provide a Dogon man with a group of reciprocators that is well-defined with explicit mechanisms to monitor reputation and avenues through which to promote and enhance his status. The extent that each religion incorporates expenses to achieve these benefits, however, have different tradeoffs to poorer and wealthier individuals.

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