The Disciplinary Revolution

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The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe

Philip S. Gorski

Publisher: University of Chicago PressFormat: Paperback

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 as communal surveillance, control through incarceration and bureaucratic office-holding, Calvin and his followers created an infrastructure of religious governance and social control that served as a model for the rest of Europe -and the world. Gorski shows, for instance, how Calvinist-inspired social discipline contributed to the governance and pacification of Dutch society and to the rationalization and centralization of the Prussian state. He also compares religious and social disciplining as practiced by Calvinists, Lutherans and Catholics and finds that Calvinists took the disciplinary revolution much farther and faster, which helps explain the greater political strength of the Calvinist states.Written with clarity and vigour, “The Disciplinary Revolution” should be seen as a major work in European history, political science, social theory and religion.

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