Uniform TitleThe faith of sacrifice: commitment and cooperation in Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion
NameSoler Cruz, Carmin Montserrat (author), Cronk, Lee (chair), Fox, Robin (internal member), Palombit, Ryne (internal member), Sosis, Richard (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionReligion has long been assumed to promote group cohesion and solidarity. Recent developments in evolutionary anthropology and cognitive science have begun to provide clues to the mechanisms by which this may occur. A central idea that has emerged from this literature is that costly expressions of religious commitment may serve as honest signals of cooperation toward other group members. This dissertation explores this hypothesis in the context of Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion centered in Northeastern Brazil. Candomblé is organized around independent communities called terreiros, which depend on the collective efforts of their members to succeed. Belonging to Candomblé demands constant investments of time and effort from its members in terms of ritual participation. Thus, the religion presents an ideal setting to explore the relationship between religious commitment and intra-group cooperation.
Quantitative and qualitative research was carried out over a period of fourteen in the city of Salvador da Bahia. Initially, a survey was conducted to understand the variability present in the population of terreiros. Although Candomblé has long been the subject of ethnographic inquiry, there is a dearth of material on the internal sociology of terreiros and the composition of their membership. The information collected during this time was essential to understand the dynamics that operate within these religious communities. In subsequent months, systematic data were collected from a sub-sample of thirteen terreiros. Instruments included a religious commitment scale designed specifically for Candomblé devotees, an individual questionnaire, and an experimental economic game. Results show that individuals who demonstrate higher levels of religious commitment cooperate more in the game and report more instances of past cooperation toward other group members. Those who provide more cooperation to others also report receiving more cooperative acts in return. In addition, those individuals who may have more to gain from group-belonging also display higher religiosity. Apart from income, other demographic variables had little effect on various measures of both religious commitment and cooperation. Results from these analyses are discussed within the framework of signaling theory and taking into account the historical, economic and social context of Candomblé.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 214-228).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.