In God we trust: Faith-based development, spiritual transformation, and economic change in southern Andean indigenous communities

Emily Jane Hogue, Florida International University


In communities throughout the developing world, faith-based organizations (FBOs) focus on goals such as eradicating poverty, bolstering local economies, and fostering community development, while premising their activities and interaction with local communities on theological and religious understandings. Due to their pervasive interaction with participants, the religious ideologies of these FBOs impact the religious, economic, and social realities of communities. This study investigates the relationship between the international FBO, World Vision International (WVI), and changes to religious, economic, and social ideologies and practices in Andean indigenous communities in southern Peruvian. This study aims to contribute to the greater knowledge and understanding of (1) institutionalized development strategies, (2) faith-based development, and (3) how institutionalized development interacts with processes of socio-cultural change. Based on fifteen months of field research, this study involved qualitative and quantitative methods of participant-observation, interviews, surveys, and document analysis. Data were primarily collected from households from a sample of eight communities in the Pitumarca and Combapata districts, department of Canchis, province of Cusco, Peru where two WVI Area Development Programs were operating. Research findings reveal that there is a relationship between WVI’s intervention and some changes to religious, economic, and social structure (values, ideologies, and norms) and practices, demonstrating that structure and practices change when social systems are altered by new social actors. Findings also revealed that the impacts of WVI’s intervention greatly increased over the course of several years, demonstrating that changes in structure and practice occur gradually and need a period of time to take root. Finally, results showed that the impacts of WVI’s intervention were primarily limited to those most closely involved with the organization, revealing that the ability of one social actor to incite changes in the structure and practice of another actor is associated with the intensity of the relationship between the social actors. The findings of this study should be useful in ascertaining deductions and strengthening understandings of how faith-based development organizations impact aspects of religious, economic, and social life in the areas where they work.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Public policy|Spirituality|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Hogue, Emily Jane, "In God we trust: Faith-based development, spiritual transformation, and economic change in southern Andean indigenous communities" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3430721.