Philip Gorski

Philip Gorski
Yale University | YU · Department of Sociology

PhD, UC Berkeley, BA, Harvard College

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93
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Publications

Publications (93)
Chapter
The deep story of white Christian nationalism was already fully formed by around 1690, nearly three centuries before the emergence of the New Christian Right. It was woven together out of three stories taken from the Christian Bible: the Chosen People story, the End Times story and the Racial Curse story. Who counted as “white,” “Christian,” and “A...
Chapter
This chapter shows how white Christian nationalism has influenced American politics over the last two decades: the Tea Party movement, the MAGA phenomenon, and the Capitol insurrection. It argues that WCN is the hidden through line that connects all three moments. It then explores the “holy trinity” of WCN: freedom, order, and violence. White freed...
Book
Most Americans were shocked by the violence they witnessed at the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021. And bewildered by the images displayed by the insurrectionists: a wooden cross and wooden gallows; “Jesus Saves” and “Don’t Tread on Me”; Christian flags and Confederate Flags; even a prayer in Jesus’s name after storming the Senate chamber. Where...
Chapter
This chapter uses quantitative data to show how many white Christian nationalists there are, which religious traditions they belong to, and what they believe. WCN is most strongly represented among evangelical Protestants but attracts significant numbers of mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and even some non-Christians. It also shows that whit...
Chapter
This chapter explains what white Christian nationalism (WCN) is and is not. It is a deep story about America’s past and a political vision of its future. The story claims that America was founded by and for (white, Protestant) Christians. It warns that America’s power and prosperity are endangered by racial, religious, and foreign-born others. The...
Chapter
White Christian nationalism is fast becoming a serious threat to American democracy. So long as white, native-born Christians were numerically and politically dominant, WCN could coexist with American democracy. As the nation has become less white and more secular, however, WCN has taken an authoritarian turn. The result is an increasing hostility...
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Religious right leaders often promulgate views of Christianity's historical preeminence, privilege, and persecution in the United States that are factually incorrect, suggesting credulity, ignorance, or perhaps, a form of ideologically motivated ignorance on the part of their audience. This study examines whether Christian nationalism predicts expl...
Chapter
Philip Gorski is currently a professor at the Department of Sociology, co-Director of Yale’s Center for Comparative Research (CCR) and the Religion and Politics Colloquium at the Yale MacMillan Center. He gained his B.A. in social studies from Harvard College in 1986 and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996. Gors...
Article
A substância e os objetivos deste artigo estão contidos em seu título e subtítulo: ele usa a filosofia da ciência conhecida como “Realismo Crítico” para desenvolver uma teoria dos mecanismos causais, tanto naturais quanto sociais, na esperança de esclarecer certos debates em andamento dentro da sociologia histórica comparativa e ciência política co...
Chapter
The world economy is well along in a second “great transformation” in which the commodification processes of the first great transformation, as originally described by Karl Polanyi, are still present. Meanwhile, the world’s democracies are in the midst of a great “counter-movement”, a political backlash against unchecked commodification. The reacti...
Article
The Politics of Religion and Language: Similar or Different? - Volume 43 Issue 2 - Philip S. Gorski
Chapter
Most white evangelicals viewed Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils. They were driven by concerns about abortion, religious freedom, and the Supreme Court. But a plurality preferred him to other GOP candidates. Why? Because they are white Christian nationalists. As such, they were attracted by Trump’s racialized, apocalyptic, and blood-drenched...
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In the human sciences, the study of culture and the study of the state have often been separate enterprises. The state is assigned to political science and diplomatic history, while culture is placed in care of anthropology and cultural sociology.This division of labor is underwritten by aligning the state/culture opposition with various other bina...
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Since its resurrection during the 1980s, comparative-historical sociology has been repeatedly critiqued on two fronts. Quantitative methodologists have argued that its “causal inferences” are unreliable due to its “small n.” And methodological individualists have argued its explanatory accounts are unacceptable because they do not specify “microfou...
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There are few social scientists who have done as much scholarly research on religion as Christian Smith. Over the past three decades, he has interviewed hundreds of people, fielded numerous surveys, and written dozens of books. And in recent years, he has pushed beyond the boundaries of empirical social research into the neighboring domains of soci...
Book
Cambridge Core - Sociology of Religion - A Secular Age beyond the West - edited by Mirjam Künkler
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Emile Durkheim envisioned sociology as a “moral science.” Today, this phrase jars the ear. The orthodox view is that sociology can and should be “ethically neutral” (Weber). The purpose of this essay is to determine what Durkheim could have meant by this unsettling phrase and whether the project it implied is a defensible one.
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en The fact‐value distinction is leaky. The problem is not just that values can color facts. The reverse is also true: facts are also entangled with values. Nor is that the end of the matter. The concepts of fact and value are not epistemologically or ethically neutral either. It is time to abandon the quest for axiological neutrality in favor of s...
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Full-text available
Most white evangelicals viewed Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils. They were driven by concerns about abortion, religious freedom, and the Supreme Court. But a plurality preferred him to other GOP candidates. Why? Because they are white Christian nationalists. As such, they were attracted by Trump’s racialized, apocalyptic, and blood-drenched...
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Full-text available
Critical Realists have long argued that social science has an axiological concern with “human flourishing.” But they have rarely spelt out what they mean by this term. It is urgent that they do so, in order to respond effectively to the post-humanist movement’s appropriation of the flourishing concept. This article sketches a theory of human flouri...
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Central to the "war makes states" argument is the notion that territorial consolidation in Europe was irreducibly a consequence of war and territorial conquest. The actual data of European high politics, however, suggests that there is another more compelling mechanism that has been neglected in the European political development literature: the lo...
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Introduction. “Why did the total number of sovereign states in Western Europe decline so radically between the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era?” This is one of the questions that Charles Tilly posed in Coercion, Capital and European States and in other works. It has since become one of the central questions in the broader literature on Eu...
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Why did Bourdieu ally himself with Pascal? This article provides some tentative answers. It emphasizes similarities in the two men's social trajectories and symbolic position-takings as well as in their views about human nature and political community. They were pessimistic and fatalistic. Pascal's critics offered a more optimistic and constructive...
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What effect does the morphogenetic society have on contemporary religion, and vice versa? Pace classical secularization theory, social change is not leading to religious decline. Rather, globalization has triggered countervailing processes of dis/embedding and re/assemblage that are reshaping religion in contingent and unpredictable ways. Whether t...
Chapter
This paper reviews recent scholarship on causal mechanisms in both the social and biological sciences. It does so with a particular focus on North America and from the perspective of critical realism. It identifies four conceptions of causal mechanisms within the social sciences: mainstream, analytical, counterfactual and neo-pragmatist. It argues...
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There is no simple formula for religious peace in the United States, such as “separation of church andstate.” Instead, the US Constitution establishes two opposing principles -- religious freedom and civicinclusion -- that must be continually rebalanced. The legal result is a “serpentine wall” between church andstate that creates zones of cooperati...
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American sociology has not taken and does not take religion as seriously as it needs to in order to do the best sociology possible. Despite religion being an important and distinctive kind of practice in human social life, both historically and in the world today, American sociologists often neglect religion or treat it reductionistically. We explo...
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Scholarly work on the nexus of religion, nationalism, and violence is currently fragmented along disciplinary and theoretical lines. In sociology, history, and anthropology, a macro-culturalist approach reigns; in political science, economics, and international relations, a micro-rationalist approach is dominant. Recent attempts at a synthesis igno...
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This article presents an alternative account of comparative trajectories of secularization and religious change in Europe and America. Building on (1) 'supply-side,' (2) neo-orthodox secularization, and (3) historicist schools, the authors develop a synthetic explanatory framework which emphasizes changed conditions of religious belonging amid the...
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Full-text available
Scholarly work on the nexus of religion, nationalism, and violence is currently fragmented along disciplinary and theoretical lines. In sociology , history, and anthropology, a macro-culturalist approach reigns; in political science, economics, and international relations, a micro-rationalist approach is dominant. Recent attempts at a synthesis ign...
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Barack Obama's critics question whether he believes in “American exceptionalism.” Evaluating this judgment requires some historical perspective and analytical clarity about the shifting and manifold meanings of the term. There are two main types of American exceptionalism: a “crusader exceptionalism” favored by most of Obama's GOP rivals, and a “pr...
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Civil Religion: A Dialogue in the History of Political Philosophy. By BeinerRonald. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. xiv + 432 pp. $34.99 paper - Volume 5 Issue 1 - Philip S. Gorski
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This book explores the question of whether we are living in a post-secular world by focusing on the state of religiosity in the world and religion's place in the social sciences and beyond. In the context of claims about religious resurgence, this book examines the legacies of secularism and secularization theory, the contested categories of religi...
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God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics. By ToftMonica Duffy, PhilpottDaniel, and ShahTimothy Samuel. New York: W. W. Norton, 2011. 276p. $25.95. Religion, War and Empire: The Transformation of International Orders. By PhillipsAndrew. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 364p. $90.00 cloth, $34.99 paper. - Volume 10 Issue 1 - P...
Book
A diverse but very stimulating collection. -- Robert Bellah, author of Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age The Post-Secular in Question considers whether there has in fact been a religious resurgence of global dimensions in recent decades. This collection of original essays by leading academics represents an interdisc...
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In 1967, Robert N. Bellah famously argued that there existed an “American Civil Religion,” which was distinct from churchly religion and captured the “transcendental” dimension of the American project. In this chapter, I revisit the civil religion concept and reconstruct it along more Weberian lines. Specifically, I argue that the civil religion tr...
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Full-text available
In 1967, Robert N. Bellah famously argued that there existed an “American Civil Religion,” which was distinct from churchly religion and captured the “transcendental” dimension of the American project. In this chapter, I revisit the civil religion concept and reconstruct it along more Weberian lines. Specifically, I argue that the civil religion tr...
Article
FOR MANY of those who observe it closely, the current state of conservative Protestantism in the United States is a source of considerable shock. For political liberals, the shock derives from the strength of the movement (Habermas 2006; Taylor 2006). They wonder why the United States is not a normal country, like, say, England or Holland, countrie...
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The study of secularization appears to be entering a new phase. Supplyside theories that focus exclusively on religious participation and membership seem too one-dimensional. But classical theories of secularization contain generalized and teleological premises that are at odds with the complexities of empirical reality and the historical record. T...
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What explains the rapid growth of state power in early modern Europe? While most scholars have pointed to the impact of military or capitalist revolutions, Philip S. Gorski argues instead for the importance of a disciplinary revolution unleashed by the Reformation. By refining and diffusing a variety of disciplinary techniques and strategies, such...
Article
Even in its current, unfinished state, The Sources of Social Power is probably the single most ambitious work of historical sociology to appear during the last thirty years – years in which historical sociology has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance throughout the English-speaking world. The aims of The Sources of Social Power are grand in scope and...
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What is the relationship between natural science, social science, and religion? The dominant paradigm in contemporary social science is scientism, the attempt to apply the methods of natural science to the study of society. However, scientism is problematic: it rests on a conception of natural science that cannot be sustained. Natural scientific un...
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Despite the lip service which many sociologists pay to Popper’s hypothetico-deductive model (HDM) of theory testing, few if any major social theories have been definitively falsified. The reason is that sociological explanations do not fit the deductivist model of explanation: They do not contain universal or statistical “covering laws” from which...
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Social Forces 82.2 (2003) 833-839 Nearly a century after its initial publication as a series of journal articles in the years 1904 and 1905, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism still remains one of the most influential and widely read works in social science. First translated into English by Talcott Parsons in 1930, Weber's book has b...
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Social history isn t what it used to be. Over the last several decades, the old concern with the macro and the social, inspired by Marxism and the Annales school, has gradually given way to a focus on the micro and the cultural. When contemporary historians study the social, they usually do so at the micro level, focusing on particular cities or vi...
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this paper is to point up the shortcomings of this approach and sketch out an alternative theory of bureaucratization. Specifically, I will argue that the persistence of patrimonialism in Southern Europe, and the advance of bureaucracy in Northern Europe have more to do with religion than with geo-politics, and, in particular, that the diffusion of...
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Most theorists of nationalism are modernists: they regard nationalism as an essentially modern phenomenon. This article takes issue with the modernist position. Drawing on primary and secondary evidence from the Netherlands, England, and other early modern polities, it documents the existence of movements and ideologies that must be classified as n...
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In recent years, the sociology of religion has been consumed by a debate over secularization that pits advocates of a new, rational-choice paradigm (the so-called religious economies model) against defenders of classical secularization theory. According to the old paradigm, the Western world has become increasingly secular since the Middle Ages; ac...
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Current theories explain state structure and strength in terms of differences in socioeconomic and administrative development. Here, it is argued that a third factor was also critical in early modern state formation: a disciplinary revolution unleashed by ascetic Protestant movements. The essay critiques Foucault's and Elias's theories of social di...
Article
Social history isn t what it used to be. Over the last several decades, the old concern with the macro and the social, inspired by Marxism and the Annales school, has gradually given way to a focus on the micro and the cultural. When contemporary historians study the social, they usually do so at the micro level, focusing on particular cities or vi...
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Full-text available
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Thesis (A.B., Honors)--Harvard University, 1986. Includes bibliographical references.
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Max Weber’s Economy and Society is widely considered the most important single work in sociology and among the most important in the history of the social sciences. This volume provides a critical and up-to-date introduction to Weber’s magnum opus. While much has been published about the various parts of Economy and Society, this is the first b...

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