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The Point of Origin before Destination

The Sociology of Religion and Knowledge Applied to Calvinism

Milan Zafirovski

The paper seeks to help correct a certain imbalance in the sociological literature on Calvinism and its derivations like Puritanism, neo-Calvinism, etc. This is the literature’s centering on Calvinism’s various social consequences and decentering on its own origins and conditions in society. As a corrective to this asymmetry in the literature, the paper assumes and explores the societal roots and factors of the emergence and early development and expansion of Calvinism. This is done on the grounds that the analysis of the societal determination, i.e., the point of origin of Calvinism, like other religion and ideology, is equally and even more important than that of its social effects or destination. In formal terms, the paper considers Calvinism to be a dependent variable, function of certain societal determinants and settings as the explanatory factor, thus correcting the prevalent treatment of it as the independent variable in the sociological literature. In so doing it adopts and applies the main premises and findings of the sociology of religion and knowledge to Calvinism. Its aim is to contribute to a more complete sociology of the Calvinist religion that explores both its social conditions and its social consequences.

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Milan Zafirovski