i. Relationships between religious values and development concepts and practices

The overall question addressed by these components is: how are people's religious values and beliefs reflected in their attitudes towards key development issues, their perceptions, experience and pursuit of wellbeing, and their attitudes towards corruption? It includes three components that consider the content and influence of religious teaching; relationships between religion, perceptions of wellbeing and the situation of poor people; and the attitudes of public servants towards corruption.

ia. Relationships between values, religious teaching and mainstream development concepts and practices

Aim: to examine local interpretations of religious teachings relevant to development. The research is considering how the standard international teachings of the main world religions are interpreted locally by teachers and recipients. The focus will be on two general and two controversial development issues: poverty, wealth and inequality; credit and debt; gender; and women's education. The objectives are to:

  • assess the impact of the formal teachings of various religions on local attitudes to the identified issues
  • analyse how these issues are understood, including the way interpretations by religious teachers are reached and what external factors influence them
  • analyse how the teachings are accessed and received by the wider community
  • identify the roles of religious leaders within their communities and their relations with other significant social actors.

The methodological approach has included:

  • a review of relevant international and national literature and the main sources of religious teaching
  • mapping (identification of religious organisations and other organisations with a religious identity e.g. certain political parties, media outlets, locating them in relation to the communities they target, and identification of the main channels for transmission of teaching)
  • textual analysis of written and oral materials e.g. sermons, tapes
  • the use of ethnographic tools including individual and group interviews with religious leaders and teachers and representative groups of 'members' in selected locations (men and women).

The research is being undertaken in India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Research team


Dr Tamsin Bradley, Department of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University. Email: t.bradley@londonmet.ac.uk

Research associate:

Dr Justina Dugbazah, International Development Department, University of Birmingham
Email: j.e.dugbazah@bham.ac.uk


Dr Lynne Brydon, Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham
Email: brydonl@bham.ac.uk

Country teams:

  • India - Dr Tamsin Bradley, Zara Ramsay , LSE; Dr Bharati Puri, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Nigeria - Dr Pauline Mark-Lere, University of Jos (team leader); Dr Lateef Abbas, University of Ibadan; Ibrahim Hassan, Nasarawa State University; Helen Labeodan, University of Ibadan
  • Pakistan - Dr Rubina Saigol, Independent Consultant, Lahore (team leader); Fatimah Ihsan
  • Tanzania - Dr Simeon Mesaki, University of Dar es Salaam (team leader); Dr Ahmad Kipacha, University of Dodoma

Research outputs:

Working Paper 04 (2007) Sociology, Religion and Development: Literature Review (PDF 233KB) Emma Tomalin

Working Paper 05 (2007) The Relationships Between Religion and Development: Views from Anthropology (PDF 428KB) Tamsin Bradley

Working Paper 06 (2007) Religious Studies and Development: A Literature Review (PDF 294KB) Emma Tomalin

Working Paper 07 (2007) Political Science, Religion and Development: A Literature Review (PDF 479KB) Gurharpal Singh, Heather Marquette, Namawu Alhassan Alolo

Working Paper 08 (2007) Gender Studies Approaches to the Relationships between Religion and Development (PDF 309KB) Emma Tomalin

Working Paper 10 (2008) India: Some Reviews of Literature Related to Religions and Development (PDF 607KB) Religions and Development Research Programme (Ed)

Working Paper 25 (2008) Psychology, Religion and Development: A Literature Review (PDF 309KB) Faith Martin

Working Paper 33 (2009) The Relationships between Values, Religious Teaching and Development Concepts and Practices: A Preliminary Literature Review (PDF 494KB) Justina Dugbazah

Working Paper 51 (2011) 'The people know they need religion in order to develop': the relationships between Hindu and Buddhist religious teachings, values and beliefs, and visions of the future in Pune, India (PDF 396KB)Tamsin Bradley, Zara Ramsay

ib. Wellbeing and religion - questions of values and practices

This research component builds on the work of the ESRC Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) research programme, 2002- 2007. This used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods and fieldwork in urban and rural sites in Peru, Ethiopia, Thailand and Bangladesh to explore the social and cultural construction of wellbeing.

The WeD approach identifies three interlinked dimensions of wellbeing: material, relational and subjective. The material typically comprises assets and living standards. The relational concerns social and personal relationships. The subjective concerns cultural values, ideologies and beliefs and also people's own perceptions of their situation. WeD views wellbeing as a process rather than a state or an outcome, and emphasises that what people understand by wellbeing is context-specific (http://www.welldev.org.uk) .

This research component uses this framework to explore how religion figures in the values and practices that make up people's understanding and experience of wellbeing in selected sites of Bangladesh and India.

Aims and objectives

To contribute to academic debates on the significance of religion to development and wellbeing

  1. To develop a replicable methodology for religion-sensitive wellbeing research
  2. To produce analysis that combines theory and empirical research which addresses the following specific research questions
    1. What is the significance of religious identity to the wellbeing outcomes of different population groups (by age, gender, and minority/majority status)?
    2. How does religious identity and sensibility inform people's actions and behaviour in everyday life?
    3. How are understandings of and the interpolation between religion, development and wellbeing changing over time?


The work is divided into two stages. The first stage, February-December 2007, built on WeD quantitative and qualitative work in two sites (one urban and one rural) in NW Bangladesh. Analysis of data on religion from the main WeD study was followed by detailed religion-focused in-depth research. From this was produced a pilot protocol for the study of religion, wellbeing and development in India, which can then be adapted for use in other countries. The Bath-based researchers worked with WeD's Bangladeshi partner (Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies).

The second stage (late 2007-2009) is located in Orissa and Punjab, India. The pilot protocol was extended to include a streamlined version of the main WeD survey and quality of life work. The survey was completed in December 2008. The final qualitative phase of the research ends in July 2009. Field research collaboration was with Renaissance (Orissa) and Parivartan ( Punjab).

Research team


Dr Joe Devine , Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath
Email: j.devine@bath.ac.uk

Dr Sarah White , Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath
Email: s.c.white@bath.ac.uk

Country team leaders:

  • Bangladesh - Dr Zulfiqar Ali, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies,
  • India - Kultar Singh, Parivartan, New Delhi; Senior Qualitative Researcher Shreya Jha

Research outputs:

Working Paper 32 (2009) Beyond the Paradox: Religion, Family and Modernity in Contemporary Bangladesh (PDF 131KB) Sarah White

Working Paper 36 (2009) Domains of Contestation: Women's Empowerment and Islam in Bangladesh (PDF 417KB) Sarah White

Working Paper 40 (2009) Religion, Politics and the Everyday Moral Order in Bangladesh (PDF 300KB) Joe Devine and Sarah White

Working Paper 54 (2011) Religion, development and wellbeing in India (PDF 429KB)Sarah C White, Joe Devine, Shreya Jha

ic. Religion, ethics and attitudes towards corruption

In countries where religion plays a vital role in the lives of most people, it has often been assumed that many people in these countries, including public servants, derive their ethical framework from their religion. Faith provides many with the language of ethics and, often, an actual 'list' of rules to live by, some of which can be interpreted as being of particular importance to fighting corruption. In many countries - including in our partner countries - some religious organisations and FBOs have been active in denouncing corruption.

Despite this, many of the most corrupt countries in the world (according to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index) also rank high in terms of religiosity (using indicators such as the Pew Global Attitudes Projects). This raises some important questions: do people separate public and private morality? Are attitudes towards corruption informed by religious teachings? Do public servants particularly see religious teachings concerned with ethics as applying to their work or do they see them as either irrelevant or difficult to implement in practice? Does the specific religion make a difference to attitudes towards corrupt behaviour? Do the actions of religious leaders themselves, either in terms of condemning corruption publicly or engaging in corrupt activities, make a difference to followers' attitudes towards corrupt behaviour? Has the incorporation of religious leaders into the public sector had an impact either on corrupt behaviour or perceptions of corruption? A better understanding of the relationship between religion, ethics and corruption will be useful to anti-corruption actors and their partners, as well as making a significant contribution to our understanding of how attitudes towards corruption are formed.

We see religion both in terms of a lived experience and as a discursive space, thus we have adopted a social constructivist approach to develop an understanding of how religion may or may not influence attitudes towards corruption. Our methodological approach includes

  • textual analysis (to determine if the language of religion is evident in the discourse on corruption, and to understand if and how public servants use this language to justify or condemn corrupt behaviour)?
  • semi-structured in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with leaders and members of selected religious organisations, policy makers and staff in selected sectors, and those engaged in anti-corruption policy design and implementation.

The research is being undertaken in India and Nigeria between May 2007 and March 2010.

Research team


Dr Heather Marquette, International Development Department, University of Birmingham
Email: h.a.marquette@bham.ac.uk

Dr Insa Nolte, Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham
Email: m.i.nolte@bham.ac.uk

Country teams

  • India - Professor Vinod Pavarala, University of Hyderabad (team leader); Dr Kanchan Malik, University of Hyderabad?
  • Nigeria - Dr Antonia Taiye Simbine, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (team leader); Dr Emmanuel Aiyede, University of Ibadan  

Research outputs:

Working Paper 41 (2010) Whither Morality: 'Finding God' in the Fight against Corruption (PDF 236KB) Heather Marquette

Working Paper 42 (2010) Corruption, Religion and Moral Development (PDF 263KB) Heather Marquette

Working Paper 53 (2011) Religions, ethics and attitudes towards corruption: a study of perspectives in India (PDF 396KB)Vinod Pavarala, Kanchan Malik