Ozan Aksoy (UCL – University College London)
17 February 2022 @ 14:00 - 15:30
- Past event
“When ambiguous religious signals are more reliable: evidence from beards and veils”
Co-authored with Diego Gambetta (Collegio Carlo Alberto)
Abstract. Are religious practices partly signals—observable actions meant to inform on unobservable “qualities”? If so, whether and how does the reliability of these signals depend on social and political incentives that may favour the pious? We aim to address these questions by comparing the West Bank and Gaza. While the two regions are similar in many aspects (culture, language, religion, etc.), Gaza has been ruled by an organisation which encourages Islamic mores, but the West Bank is governed by a secular one. This creates incentives to signal a strong or otherwise religiosity in Gaza but not in the West Bank. We find using the PEW World Muslims survey and the Arab Barometer that the two regions do not differ significantly regarding the prevalence of unobservable religious behaviours and beliefs—which we collectively label as “inner religiosity”. However, in Gaza veiling, beards, and mosque attendance are much more common than in the West Bank. Moreover, the positive associations of inner religiosity with mosque attendance and with veiling are stronger in the West Bank than in Gaza. For beards, which is an a-priori more ambiguous signal of religiosity than mosque attendance and veiling, this is the opposite: in Gaza beards signal inner religiosity while in the West Bank beards and inner religiosity are independent. We then generalise these results to the wider Muslim World.