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On Behalf of OthersThe Psychology of Care in a Global World$
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Sarah Scuzzarello, Catarine Kinnvall, and Kristen R. Monroe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385557

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385557.001.0001

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Spirit of Altruism? On the Role of the Finnish Church as a Promoter of Altruism of Individuals and of Society

Spirit of Altruism? On the Role of the Finnish Church as a Promoter of Altruism of Individuals and of Society

Chapter:
(p.184) Chapter 9 Spirit of Altruism? On the Role of the Finnish Church as a Promoter of Altruism of Individuals and of Society
Source:
On Behalf of Others
Author(s):

Anne Birgitta Pessi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385557.003.0010

The chapter discusses the role of institutions in promoting altruistic behavior and is focused on the Finnish church. The author argues for a departure from an individual-based understanding of altruistic behavior in favor of a perspective that recognizes the role of social groups in constructing and maintaining altruistic values. Religious institutions are assuming renewed political and social importance. Finnish people see the church more as an “agent of altruism,” engaged in social work and an actor to be trusted, than as a spiritual actor. This takes place despite the evident difficulties that the church faces in late modernity, i.e., the privatization of religiosity and the majority society’s scarce participation in religious and social activities. The chapter presents a challenge to the sometimes unquestioned political and moral secularism that permeates many discussions on how to teach and foster prosocial, altruistic behavior.

Keywords:   altruism, Finland, Finnish church, secularism, social group

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