Religion is an important determinant of social and economic inequality, but the mechanisms that underlie this relationship
are not well-understood. Early scholars recognized this connection, but their ideas do not adequately explain
contemporary stratification patterns. Recent research documents robust empirical relationships between religion
and material outcomes but has not yet begun to identify causes of these patterns. We fill this gap by providing a
theoretical explanation of the religion-inequality link that synthesizes ideas from early and recent sociology. We propose that the process is inherently multilevel. We draw on ideas from status attainment theory to develop a micro-model
and ideas from social balance theory to aggregate the model’s outcomes. The synthesis of ideas from these theoretical traditions provides a unique, and potentially useful way to understand the relationship between cultural orientation and material resources.
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