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HasidismKey Questions$
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Marcin Wodzinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190631260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190631260.001.0001

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(p.201) 6 Economy

Marcin Wodziński

Oxford University Press

The self-image of Hasidism as a poor movement, typical of many religious groups in which the founding ethos of the group was in describing itself as untouched by earthly material desires, has been widely accepted in both common wisdom and the scholarship on Hasidism. Based on extensive narrative sources and some quantitative materials, this chapter provides a rich picture of Hasidic groups’ occupational and financial profile, which contradicts this prevailing view that the Hasidim were usually poor and detached from economic activity. It points to the Hasidim’s relative affluence, as well as to their tendency to cluster in the commercial professions and to avoid the crafts. More broadly, it points to the dynamic character of “class/church” interdependence and the ideological and cultural factors creating them. It also confirms the correlation between a religious group’s strictness and its socioeconomic strength and attractiveness.

Keywords:   Hasidism, deprivation theory, rational choice theory, economic activity, professional profile, commerce, crafts, contract enforcement

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