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Protestant Ethics-In-Action: The Emergence of Voluntary Social Work in Copenhagen 1865-1915

  • Anders Sevelsted (a1)

Abstract

This article shows how voluntary social work in late 19th/early 20th century Copenhagen emerged as the result of several creative re-interpretations of the cultural schemas of revivalist Protestantism as urban revivalists faced the social question. Informed by pragmatist cultural sociology, the concept of “collective soteriology” is introduced as a way of analyzing the Protestant reinterpretations in terms of doctrine, ideals of community, and recipes for action. It is shown how Lutheran revivalist ideas at the same time encouraged, constrained, and shaped the voluntary social action undertaken. The paper aims to uncover a sociologically neglected European tradition of civic action, to contribute to the sociology of Protestantism’s influence on civil society, and to develop a theoretical framework for analyzing the role of ideas in non-contentious collective action.

Cet article décrit le travail social bénévole à Copenhague, à la du fin xixe et début du xxe siècles, comme le résultat d’une succession de réinterprétations créatrices des schèmes culturels du mouvement revitaliste au sein du protestantisme, et ce alors que les revivalistes urbains étaient confrontés à la question sociale. S’appuyant sur une sociologie pragmatiste de la culture, le concept de « sotériologie collective » apparaît comme un moyen d’analyser ces réinterprétations protestantes en termes de doctrine, d’idéaux communautaires mais également de principes d’action. On montre comment les idées revivalistes luthériennes ont à la fois encouragé, contraint et façonné l’action sociale volontaire mise en œuvre. L’article met au jour une tradition européenne d’action civique négligée sociologiquement, mais également contribue à une sociologie du protestantisme et de son influence sur la société civile tout en développant un cadre théorique centré sur le rôle des idées pour des actions collectives non conflictuelles.

Dieser Beitrag beschreibt, wie Ende des 19., Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts die freiwillige Sozialarbeit in der Stadt Kopenhagen durch eine schöpferische Neuinterpretierung der kulturellen Schemata vonseiten der protestantische Revivalisierungsbewegung entstanden ist und dies, obwohl die städtischen Revivalisten mit der sozialen Frage konfrontiert wurden. Gestützt auf eine pragmatische Kultursoziologie wird das Konzept der “kollektiven Soteriologie” angewandt, um diese protestantischen Neuinterpretierungen bezüglich Doktrin, gemeinschaftlicher Ideale aber auch Handlungsprinzipien untersuchen zu können. Es wird verdeutlicht, wie revivalistische Ideen der Lutheraner das freiwillige soziale Engagement sowohl ermutigt, beengt und geformt haben. Dieser Aufsatz möchte eine soziologisch vernachlässigte europäische Tradition zivilen Handelns aufdecken, zur Soziologie protestantischer Einflüsse auf die Zivilgesellschaft beitragen und einen theoretischen Rahmen entwickeln, um die Bedeutung der Ideen bei konfliktfreien, kollektiven Handlungen untersuchen zu können.

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Protestant Ethics-In-Action: The Emergence of Voluntary Social Work in Copenhagen 1865-1915

  • Anders Sevelsted (a1)

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