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Revivalism and Cultural Change

Christianity, Nation Building, and the Market in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Revivalism and Cultural Change

Christianity, Nation Building, and the Market in the Nineteenth-Century United States

The history of Christianity in America has been marked by recurring periods of religious revivals or awakenings. In this book, George M. Thomas addresses the economic and political context of evangelical revivalism and its historical linkages with economic expansion and Republicanism in the nineteenth century. Thomas argues that large-scale change results in social movements that articulate new organizations and definitions of individual, society, authority, and cosmos. Drawing on religious newspapers, party policies and agendas, and quantitative analyses of voting patterns and census data, he claims that revivalism in this period framed the rules and identities of the expanding market economy and the national policy.

"Subtle and complex. . . . Fascinating."—Randolph Roth, Pennsylvania History

"[Revivalism and Cultural Change] should be read with interest by those interested in religious movements as well as the connections among religion, economics, and politics."—Charles L. Harper, Contemporary Sociology

"Readers old and new stand to gain much from Thomas’s sophisticated study of the macrosociology of religion in the United States during the nineteenth century. . . . He has given the sociology of religion its best quantitative study of revivalism since the close of the 1970s."—Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

245 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1989

History: American History

Religion: American Religions

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Sociocultural Change, Revivalism, and Republicanism
Objectives in Studying Revivalism and Change
Summary of the Book
2. An Institutional Model of Cultural Change and Social Movements
Large-Scale Change and Social Movements
Institutional Order: Rules, Ontology, and Knowledge
Integration of the Institutional Order: Isomorphism and Environments
Formal Organization and Ritual
Institutional Dynamics: Rethinking Elective Affinity
Environmental Dynamics and Social Movements
An Example: Twentieth-Century Protestantism
Competition and Formal Organization
Further Considerations: Contradictions, Interest, and Power
3. An Institutional Analysis of Market Penetration
Market Penetration in Nineteenth-Century United States
Market Penetration as Rationalization
Rationalization in Historical Perspective
Individuation as Concept and Variable
Transformation of the Ontology
Variations in Individuation/Individualism: Efficacy
Causal Analysis of Specific Transformations
Market, Polity, and Ontology in Nineteenth-Century United States
4. The Social Meaning of Revivalism and Republicanism
Revival Religion
Causal Interpretation of Revival Religion
The Institutional Thesis and American Religion Literature
Causal Interpretation of Republicanism
The Institutionalism Thesis and Prior Studies
5. Political-Economic Aspects of Revivalism: Quantitative Analyses, 1870-1896
Research Approach and Design
Concepts and Measures
Splitting the Sample and the Exclusion of Cases
The Socioeconomic Context of Revivalism, 1870-1890: Results
The Political Consequences of Revivalism, 1880-1896: Results
General Inferences and Caveats
6. Toward a General Theory of Religious Movements
Empirical Issues and Trends
Religion and Nation Building, Some Comparisons
Religion and State Formation
The Dialectics of Political-Technological Order and Gnosticism
New Religious Trends and Movements
Concluding Thoughts on the Sociology of Religion
Appendix: Technical Aspects of the Quantitative Analyses


Pacific Sociological Association: Distinguished Scholarship Award

ASA Culture Section: Mary Douglas Prize

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