A decentralized Catholic Church allows for the development of grassroots secular political activism
Divined Intervention provides an innovative institutionalist account for why religion enables political activism in some settings, but not others. Christopher W. Hale argues that decentralized religious institutions facilitate grassroots collective action, and he uses a multimethod approach to test this explanation against several theoretical alternatives. Utilizing nationally representative Mexican survey data, the book’s statistical analyses demonstrate that decentralization by the Catholic Church is positively associated with greater individual political activism across the country. Using case studies centered in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Yucatán, and Morelos, the author shows that religious decentralization encourages reciprocal cooperative interactions at a local level. This then increases the ability of religion to provide goods and services to its local adherents. These processes then prompt the growth of organizational capacities at the grassroots, enabling secular political activism.
Because this theoretical framework is grounded in human behavior, it shows how local institutions politically organize at the grassroots level. Divined Intervention also offers an improved understanding of religion’s relationship with political activism, a topic of ever-increasing significance as religion fuels political engagement across the globe. The book further synthesizes seemingly disparate approaches to the study of collective action into a cohesive framework. Finally, there is some debate as to the impact of ethnic diversity on the provision of public goods, and this study helps us understand how local institutional configurations can enable collective action across ethnic boundaries.
Christopher W. Hale is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama.
"... he (Hale) has raised timely questions in a turbulent time when populism, religion, and ethnicity are asserting themselves worldwide. Scholars of comparative politics should want to engage him." - CHOICE- G. A. Moots