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|COMPENSATORS (GENERAL AND SPECIFIC COMPENSATORS)|
|One of the key concepts in the
formal theory of religion developed by the U.S. sociologists Rodney Stark
and William Sims Bain-bridge (e.g., 1987). According to this theory,
people seek rewards and try to acquire them at low costs. Rewards are
anything people desire , material and or immaterial. The things
people desire depend both on their personal preferences and on the
sociocultural context in which they are embedded.
Rewards are unequally distributed: Some are scarcer than others, and some even seem to be attainable only in the distant future or in an "other world," such as life eternal. This is why substitutes or compensators have been invented for these rewards, and they are treated as if they were rewards. Two types of compensators can be discerned: general and specific. General refers to "a great array of rewards or rewards of vast scope," whereas a specific compensator is the opposite. As a rule, general compensators are found in religion, whereas magicians are the providers of specific compensators par excellence.
See also Rational Choice Theory
—Durk H. Hak
R. Stark and W. S. Bainbridge, A Theory of Religion (New York: Lang, 1987).
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