Religious Embeddedness of Economic Activity: Orthodox Entrepreneurship and Its Role in the Development of the Russian Society

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
56 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Anna Kalashnikova, LLC "MK-CONSULTING", Moscow, Russian Federation
Margarita Kalashnikova, St. Tikhon's Orthodox Humanitarian University, Moscow, Russian Federation
In his works, Amitai Etzioni distinguishes two central competing paradigms in the analysis of the contemporary society’s social and economic life: the neoclassical economics

and the concept of socioeconomics.

Followers of the neoclassical paradigm consider individuals as those implementing their self-interest and intending to maximize their benefit based on a rational choice.

Socioeconomics states that the explanation of economic behavior based solely on the maximization principle is inappropriate and assumes the multiplicity of economic motivation factors, which comprises not only utility components but also cultural values, customs, faith, emotions, etc.

The New Economic Sociology (NES), where the key idea is the structural embeddedness of an economic action (M. Granovetter), correlates with the socioeconomic paradigm in the matter relating to the social determination of human behavior. Representatives of the sociocultural NES branch state that along with the structural embeddedness there are other types of embeddedness: political embeddedness, cognitive embeddedness and, among other things, cultural embeddedness. That is, culture forms, preserves, translates the basic values of economic activity and sets limits of economic rationality.

Theoretic assumptions of socioeconomics and NES may serve as a methodological basis for analyzing the principles and traditions relating to the activity of the Russian orthodox entrepreneurship.

It is generally admitted that the key feature of entrepreneurship is the innovative nature of activity conducted in conditions of risk and uncertainty; however, in essence entrepreneurship is a multifunctional phenomenon intended to achieve both economic (profit earning) and social purposes. That is why entrepreneurship is considered not only a type of economic thinking and behavior but a cultural phenomenon.

M. Weber showed, making an example of the Protestantism ethic doctrine, how a religion may influence the economic activity of a human being.

In Russia, establishment of traditional basic values is mainly connected with the Orthodoxy. Those are orthodox values that have influenced the organization of economic activity and defined the key principles of the Russian business culture. Within the orthodox labor ethics, economic activity of an entrepreneur is considered public service and the ownership is understood not as a right, but more as responsibility to the society.

The orthodox entrepreneurship has hugely contributed to the economic, spiritual and cultural development of Russia and, accordingly, it is impossible to elaborate a strategy of social and economic modernization and define prospects for building a civil society in modern Russia without taking into account specific features relating to the historical path of the country and national traditions of economic activity.

Representatives of the contemporary institutionalism, who are developing the Path Dependence theory (D. North, P. David, B. Arthur), also note the need to apply this very approach to building social institutes – economic, political, those of the civil society, etc.

To develop the topic relating to the religious embeddedness of economic activity, it seems reasonable to carry out a comparative analysis of labor ethics of key religious confessions. This matter becomes especially relevant due to the increasing global migration processes and in this regard the importance of the analysis of ethnic entrepreneurship.