Emma Sherwood: “More than Mormon”

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This just in: You can be more than Mormon in Utah. A recent article on RedHerring.com examined the technological possibilities of Salt Lake City as part of a series of largely unknown startup cities, finding a thriving culture of Internet entrpreneurs rivaling that of Silicon Valley. The opportunities are endless there, though officials believe the perception of Utah as purely a place to practice Mormonism is a major drawback. While SLC sees a consistent mass influx of prospective tech geniuses, it loses out to the urban nightlife of more secular cities that tempt the young adventure seekers with “looser” moral standards and a more laissez-faire attitude towards partying and drinking. In reality, the business side of Utah is much less religion-oriented, focusing instead on the progressive initiative-taking necessary for technological advances. Utah is actually very economically viable, more affordable than elsewhere and influential in many technological areas. However, its growth seems stunted by its “religion first” stereotype.

We see this interwoven connection between religion and culture in Max Weber’s sociological studies. The spirit of Utah is heavily influenced by Mormonism, whose founders are said to have fostered a “pioneering” work ethic that can clearly be seen today. Weber’s belief in the mutual effect of religion and culture upon one another shines through with Utah’s prosperity and Mormon ideals. Mormonism is so ingrained in Utahn life that it is difficult to separate the business from the belief, as this article emphasizes. Utah’s conservative drinking laws came out of the Mormon view on drunkenness, and that affects how many young people remain in the state for tech jobs. In Weber’s terms, religion, politics, and economics collide in this unacknowledged nucleus for tech corporations: Mormonism shapes Utah’s laws, which affects the social life of the state, which impacts the population of computer-savvy youth, which has economic consequences that allude back to Mormon relations with lawmakers. The article’s author believes that Mormonism’s ideology and power must be kept in check for the continued economic success of the state.



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