The Socioeconomic Roles of Religion: The Case of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches in Addis Ababa

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The primary purpose of this thesis is to describe the socioeconomic roles of religion with a particular reference to Ethiopian Orthodox Churches in Addis Ababa. Having the epistemological stance of constructivism, this research is conducted using the theoretical perspective of interpritivism. The researcher adopts a phenomenological methodology and mainly emphasizing on interpreting the data obtained from respondents. In relation to the data collection methods, key informant interviews, focus group discussion (FGDs), observations and informal conversations have been used. By using such methods, this research answers four basic questions in relation to the main objective. First, it describes about the understanding of Orthodox Christians towards religiosity and its present condition in Addis Ababa. With respect to this, findings suggest that Orthodox Christians understand religiosity in ways that are linked to religious knowledge and practice in general, and they understand religiosity in terms of church attendance, religious adherence, religious services and occupation, private religious devotions, and religious donations in particular. Second, this research describes the role of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches (EOTCs) in the provision of social support. Findings reveal that Churches provide three kinds of support: emotional support, provision of food, and provision of clothes. Third, this thesis explains about the Church's role in affecting the nature of social and interpersonal relationships of its followers. Accordingly, this research finds that EOTCs plays both positive and negative roles on the interactions of individuals. It promotes interaction between its followers, and, on the other hand, it has a negative impact on the relationship between Orthodox Christians and followers of other religion. Finally, an attempt has been made to describe the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches in the provision of health care services. In this regard, the Church uses its spiritual practices as a means of providing health care services to lailies. Tsebel, Qeba Qidus and Emnet are among the spiritual practices which are used as a means of delivering health care services in the city. Of those spiritual practices, Tsebel is the most widely used mode of healings in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches. From the findings of this research, it is possible to conclude that religion is an inherently a social phenomenon, and it has many effects on the socioeconomic life of a certain community. If so, this kind of researches on the socioeconomic aspects of religion will playa great role in providing vital information for policy makers and administrators to use religiOUS organizations as a working partner in implementing their social and economic policies. Moreover, this study adds knowledge by bringing to light the socio-economic roles of EOTCs in Addis Ababa