World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: a Cross-Cultural Perspective
This book provides a cross-cultural analysis of traditional social organization of the Old World Oikumene civilizations, which suggest that the world religions were its major determinant. The role of Christianity and Islam as determinants of social evolution is analyzed in more detail. Formal analysis performed in this book shows that though such factors as political centralization and class stratification were also important determinants, the difference in traditional social organization between Christian and Islamic cultures were mostly shaped by the respective world religions. This study also analyzes such topics as influence of Islam on social patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, or Hinayana Buddhism influence on the evolution of kinship organization. This cross-cultural analysis makes it possible to provide an entirely new assessment of the old controversy between Materialism and Idealism, to move beyond both of these approaches.
“[This work] is one of the most remarkable and important studies in recent years in cross-cultural analysis. Following the general thrust of Max Weber’s argument for the significance of religion for social and economic development, Korotayev shows that the divergence between Islam and Christianity is deep and long-standing….Korotayev shows that Islamic societies are at the extreme poles of unilateral descent and patricentric kinship structures, whereas Christian societies are at the opposite poles of bilateral descent and matrilateral kinship…..Basing his findings on a wide-ranging and well-executed technical analysis of cross-cultural data sets, Korotayev makes a strong case. This work will be of great importance for everyone interested in long-term structural patterns of human societies; in the comparison of Christian and Islamic regions of the world; and in the deep historical evolution of democracy.” – Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania
ISBN10: 0-7734-6310-0 ISBN13: 978-0-7734-6310-3