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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Joseph Gerteis

Philip S. Gorski's “Barack Obama and civil religion” seeks to revive and reform the concept of civil religion. This response addresses two sets of issues raised by the…

Abstract

Philip S. Gorski's “Barack Obama and civil religion” seeks to revive and reform the concept of civil religion. This response addresses two sets of issues raised by the entwined analytic and normative claims in the chapter. The first concerns the definition of civil religion, including how the civil and religious spheres are connected within it and how civil religion differs conceptually from other related models. The second concerns whether a renewed commitment to civil religion will provide a platform for greater openness and pluralism, as Gorski claims.

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Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Andrew R. Murphy

Philip S. Gorski's “Barack Obama and Civil Religion” offers a number of important contributions to the study of American culture generally, and American Civil Religion…

Abstract

Philip S. Gorski's “Barack Obama and Civil Religion” offers a number of important contributions to the study of American culture generally, and American Civil Religion (ACR) more specifically. Gorski's appreciation of the deep diversity in contemporary American society is a welcome development in ACR analysis. I ask whether the term “civil religion” remains most adequate for describing the sort of cultural phenomenon that Gorski, following Bellah, attempts to capture, and offer some methodological and interpretive comments on the promise and challenge of studying ACR in the twenty-first century United States. I close with some more particular remarks on Barack Obama and the contours of ACR as sketched by Gorski.

Details

Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

I am honored to present Volume 22 of Political Power and Social Theory (PPST). This volume is a landmark, in that it is among the first volumes of PPST to be dedicated to…

Abstract

I am honored to present Volume 22 of Political Power and Social Theory (PPST). This volume is a landmark, in that it is among the first volumes of PPST to be dedicated to a single topic. With the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election in sight, this special volume on the meaning of Barack Obama's presidency from a critical social science perspective is especially timely. For the first part of the volume, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Louise Seamster have put together a diverse collection of essays on the politics of race in the age of Obama. For the second part (the Scholarly Controversy section familiar to PPST readers), Philip S. Gorski offers provocative reflections on Obama and civil religion in the United States, with critical commentary from Joseph Gerteis, Andrew R. Murphy, and Michael Young and Christopher Pieper.

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Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

Book part
Publication date: 27 July 2018

Philip S. Gorski

Since its resurrection during the 1980s, comparative-historical sociology has been repeatedly critiqued on two fronts. Quantitative methodologists have argued that its…

Abstract

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 “microfoundations.” But these critiques are built on faulty foundations, namely, a regularity theory of causation and a reductionist social ontology. In this article, I propose an alternative foundation derived from Critical Realism: a production theory of causation and an emergentist account of social structure.

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Critical Realism, History, and Philosophy in the Social Sciences
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-604-0

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Book part
Publication date: 5 August 2019

Philip S. Gorski

What is the relationship between the descriptive and the normative? The usual answer, in the social sciences, is based on a sharp distinction between facts and values…

Abstract

What is the relationship between the descriptive and the normative? The usual answer, in the social sciences, is based on a sharp distinction between facts and values. This chapter reprises and radicalizes long-standing critiques of the fact/value distinction, proposes an alternative theory of ontic webs in its stead, and then uses it to delineate six different forms of public sociology. It argues that facts are value-laden and values fact-laden; that facts and values are entangled in webs of belief and practice; and that attributions of causation and moral responsibility are connected via ontological assumptions. Effective public sociology therefore requires a combination of ontological extension and moral translation.

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Religion, Humility, and Democracy in a Divided America
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-949-7

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Philip S. Gorski

In 1967, Robert N. Bellah famously argued that there existed an “American Civil Religion,” which was distinct from churchly religion and captured the “transcendental”…

Abstract

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 tradition is one of three competing traditions for thinking about the proper relationship between religion and politics in America; the other two are religious nationalism and liberal secularism. Whereas liberal secularism envisions a complete separation of the religious and political value spheres, and religious nationalism longs for their (re)unification, civil religion aims for a mediating position of partial separation and productive tension. Following Bellah, I argue that the two central strands of the civil religion tradition have been covenant theology and civic republicanism. The body of the chapter sketches out the development of the tradition across a series of national foundings and refoundings, focusing on the writings of leading civil theologians from John Winthrop and John Adams through Abraham Lincoln and John Dewey to Martin King and Barack Obama. The conclusion advances a normative argument for American civil religion – and against liberal secularism and religious nationalism. I contend that liberalism is highly inclusive but insufficiently solidaristic; that religious nationalism is highly solidaristic but insufficiently inclusive; and that only civil religion strikes a proper balance between individual autonomy and the common good.

Details

Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Philip S. Gorski

In 1967, Robert N. Bellah famously argued that there existed an “American Civil Religion,” which was distinct from churchly religion and captured the “transcendental”…

Abstract

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 tradition is one of three competing traditions for thinking about the proper relationship between religion and politics in America; the other two are religious nationalism and liberal secularism. Whereas liberal secularism envisions a complete separation of the religious and political value spheres, and religious nationalism longs for their (re)unification, civil religion aims for a mediating position of partial separation and productive tension. Following Bellah, I argue that the two central strands of the civil religion tradition have been covenant theology and civic republicanism. The body of the chapter sketches out the development of the tradition across a series of national foundings and refoundings, focusing on the writings of leading civil theologians from John Winthrop and John Adams through Abraham Lincoln and John Dewey to Martin King and Barack Obama. The conclusion advances a normative argument for American civil religion – and against liberal secularism and religious nationalism. I contend that liberalism is highly inclusive but insufficiently solidaristic; that religious nationalism is highly solidaristic but insufficiently inclusive; and that only civil religion strikes a proper balance between individual autonomy and the common good.

Details

Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Abstract

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Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

Book part
Publication date: 17 July 2006

Abstract

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Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-349-5

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Book part
Publication date: 5 August 2019

Abstract

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Religion, Humility, and Democracy in a Divided America
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-949-7

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