Philip S. Gorski

Philip S. Gorski is Professor of Sociology, Director of Graduate Studies and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Research at Yale University. His recent publications include The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Growth of State Power in Early Modern Europe (Chicago, 2003) and Max Weber’s Economy and Society: A Critical Companion (Stanford, 2004). Current projects include edited volumes on “Bordieusian Theory and Historical Analysis” and a monograph entitled “Religious America, Secular Europe?”. Read Phillip S. Gorski's contribution to The naked public sphere?

Posts by Philip S. Gorski:

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Why do evangelicals vote for Trump?

Image via Flickr user Quinn DombrowskiThere are various interpretations of Trumpism on offer. Reading it as fascism explains its appeal to the white nationalists of the “alt-right.” Reading it as populism explains its appeal to a white working class fed up with the “Washington establishment.” And reading it as authoritarianism explains its appeal to voters with authoritarian personalities. These interpretations are not necessarily wrong, but they do not explain Trump’s appeal to evangelicals qua evangelicals.

So, let me propose a different interpretation. On this reading, Trumpism is a secular form of religious nationalism. By “religious nationalism,” I mean a form of nationalism that makes religious identity the litmus test of national belonging. By “a secular form of religious nationalism,” I mean one that strips religious identity of its ethical content and transcendental reference. In Trumpism, religion functions mainly as a marker of ethnicity.

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Friday, January 8th, 2010

A Neo-Weberian theory of American civil religion

The American civil religion, Robert Bellah argued, was derived from two sources, one religious and the other secular: the covenant theology of the Puritans and the classical republicanism of the Founders. Writing amidst the collective funk of the mid-1970s, Bellah famously concluded that the American civil religion was an empty and broken shell. Though I agree with Bellah about the sources of this tradition, I disagree with his assessment of its vitality. Nor do I believe that civil religion is the only version of the American tradition. I argue that there were at least two others. To wit: religious nationalism and radical secularism.

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Monday, November 23rd, 2009

After purification

keaneChristian Moderns stands apart in at least two respects: in method and in conceptualization. Whereas earlier works on liberalism, modernism and secularism mainly employ a historical and critical approach that contrasts the modern West with its premodern self and its heterodox variants, Keane works mainly comparatively, using the Indonesian mission encounter to unearth the doxa of modern Euro-American culture.  Further, whereas Asad relies mainly on the genealogical strategies of Foucault and Nietzsche, Keane adds Latour’s theory of “purification” and “hybridity.”

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Friday, March 21st, 2008

Class, nation and covenant

Over the past few days, Barack Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech has been accessed millions of times on YouTube and dissected in dozens of articles. Understandably, most of the analyses have focused on race. That, after all, was its central theme. Or was it? […]

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