Philip S. Gorski

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Philip Stephen Gorski is an American sociologist, interested in both the sociology of religion and historical sociology.


Gorski gained an A.A. from Deep Springs College in 1983, his B.A. from Harvard in 1986 and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996.[1] His advisor was sociologist of religion Robert Bellah. He worked at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, from 1996 until joining Yale University in 2007, where he is co-Director of the Center for Comparative Research alongside Julia Adams.[2]

Gorski has authored or co-authored three books.,[1] edited or co-edited three books, and published numerous articles. He was one of the editors of the journal Sociological Theory.[3] In 2011 he was awarded the Lewis A. Coser Memorial Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting by the American Sociological Association's Theory Section.[4]

The Disciplinary Revolution

In his 2003 book, The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe,[5] Gorski offers a new explanation for the rise of a strong, centralized nation-state in certain areas of Europe in early Modernity, when other areas were not as successful. Gorski rejects two of the dominant explanations, which are the bellicist explanation, which sees military growth as key to the emergence of strong states, and the neo-Marxist explanation, which sees economic factors as key to the explanation. Instead, Gorski points to the strong influence of religion in the formation of strong states. Specifically, Gorski sees Calvinism as crucial to the emergence of the Netherlands and Prussia as strong, centralized states, because of its emphasis on discipline and public order. The effects of Calvinism could be seen in crime rates, in education, in military effectiveness, in financial responsibility, and many other parts of Dutch and Prussian social life, all of which increased their ability to form bureaucratic states. Where in the Netherlands the effect of Calvinism was from the ground upwards, as most of its population was indeed Calvinist, in Prussia—where most of the population was Lutheran and only the royal house was Calvinist—the effect was from the rulers downwards (to some extent through the Pietist Lutheran movement, which was influenced by Calvinism).

Key publications


  • Gorski, Philip S. (ed.), Bourdieusian Theory and Historical Analysis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013).
  • Gorski, Philip S., David Kim, John Torpey & Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds.), The Post-Secular In Question (New York: NYU Press, 2012).
  • Gorski, Philip S., The Protestant Ethic Revisited (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011).
  • Gorski, Philip S., Charles Camic and David Trubek (eds.), Max Weber’s Economy and Society: A Critical Companion (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005).
  • Gorski, Philip S., The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism, Confessionalism and the Growth of State Power in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
  • Markovits, Andrei S. and Philip S. Gorski, The German Left: Red, Green and Beyond (New York and Cambridge: Oxford University Press and Polity Press, 1993).


  • “The Protestant Ethic Revisited: Disciplinary Revolution in Holland and Prussia”, American Journal of Sociology, 99:2 (1993), pp. 265–316.
  • “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Bureaucracy”, American Sociological Review 60:5 (1995), pp. 783–6
  • “The Mosaic Moment: An Early Modernist Critique of the Modernist Theory of Nationalism”, American Journal of Sociology 105:5 (2000), pp. 1428–68.
  • “Historicizing the Secularization Debate: Church, State and Society in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ca. 1300-1700", American Sociological Review 65:1 (2000), pp. 138–67.
  • “Religious Pluralism and Religious Participation”, Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001), pp. 261–81 (co-authored with Mark Chaves).
  • “The Return of the Repressed: Religion and the Political Unconscious of Historical Sociology”, pp. 161–188 in Julia Adams, Elisabeth Clemens and Ann Shola Orloff eds., Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology (Durham: Duke University Press 2005).
  • “The Poverty of Deductivism: A Constructive Realist Model of Sociological Explanation” in Sociological Methodology 34:1 (2004) pp. 1–33.
  • “The Little Divergence: The Protestant Ethic and Economic Hegemony in Early Modern Europe.” pp. 165–189 in Lutz Kaelber and Richard Swatos, The Protestant Ethic Turns 100: Essays on the Centenary of the Weber Thesis. (Boulder, CO, 2005).
  • “After Secularization?”, Annual Review of Sociology 34 (2008): 55-85 (co-authored with Ates Altinordu).


  1. 1.0 1.1 [1] (accessed 6 November 2012)
  2. [2](accessed 6 November 2012)
  3. Wiley-Blackwell: Sociological Theory index page (accessed 6 November 2012)
  4. "ASA Theory section". Retrieved January 7, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Gorski, Philip S. (2003). The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe. Chicago, IL: University of Chircago Press. ISBN 0226304841.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>