Religion, Politics, and Rationality in a Philippine Community is a study of the relationship between material interest and ideological practises. Based on extensive fieldwork in a municipality of northern Luzon, the book explores the structural and cultural bases of religious belief and practise. Tracing the historical pattern of the local response initially to catholic conversion, later to American Protestantism and more recently to indigenous forms of Christianity. Dr. Pertierra argues that the complex response to conversion can be understood in terms of material-political interests in association with the attempts to retain meaningful cultural forms. Drawing from the classical tradition established by Marx, Durkheim , and Weber, but extending their sociological insights by incorporating more recent theory as well as modern anthropological techniques, this study questions the prevailing views of religious practise in Philippine society and challenges the theories of rationalisation found in Development and Modernisation theory.
Hiding (and wilting) from the 41 degree heat outside, I chose to read this. Had I not had an understandable interest in Philippine history and culture, I would still have selected this, for the pure joy of learning about a new country and culture. Although it’s important to remember that this book deals with data and research from the 1975-6; the value of understanding the present, far outweighs the changes in both community, and perhaps in the theory as well.
Using a fictitious name to protect the identity of the province and the privacy of individuals, the book starts off with a look at previous studies of Filipino communities, the results, and the flaws. In and of itself, I found this short tour of the subject to be both highly interesting and extremely intricate.
The focus of this study is to track religion (and its evolution, if I may use the word in such a context) to the wider social structure within which it exists. The reader is soon introduced to the balance of both spiritual (institutionalised and indigenous) and secular behaviours on the social climate of the community. Combined with an exploration of the economy, and family roles and ties, it soon starts to resemble an extremely complex puzzle to the outsider.
The book does a great job of explaining the various subjects, keeping everything simple. It’s well chronicled and well written, insights from other studies are put forward in support or opposition to the points Dr. Pertierra asserts. The book focuses on (in order):
- history and geography
- the economy, division of labour, and the system of stratification
- political and religious mobilisation and factionalism
- kinship and social order
- rituals and social structure
- indigenous beliefs, morals values, and behavioural models
- material interests and religious ideology