Social Scientist. v 8, no. 95 (June 1980) p. 14.


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ROBERT VARICKATIL

Social Origins of Protestant Reformation

PROTESTANT REFORMATION demands the attention of the sociologist for two reasons. First, it was one of the most important movements which inaugurated what is called the ^modern west". Just as the idea of popular participation in the government was established with the French Revolution and large-scale mechanical production with the Industrial Revolution, so individualism in the religious sphere began to assert itself from 1517, with Martin Luther's revolt. Hence one cannot understand the modern west and the contemporary world in general without gaining some clear idea as to what the Reformation was'. Second, there are a number of sociologists who try to establish the casual priority of the ideal factors based on the assumption that modern capitalism was primarily an outcome of the protestant ethic. This assumption has its origin in the writings of the German sociologist Max Weber.1 Even in our own days such a theory is accepted by several sociologists under the leadership of Talcott Parsons.

Karl Marx, against whom most of these authors take their stand, too had noted that the Reformation was the true setting of a new world, especially of a new Germany.2 But Marx did not abandon his general thesis that religion was made by man and that the Reformation in particular was related to the economic



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