The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Political Power

Sociopolitical Conditions Underlying the Development of Calvinism


  • Milan Zafirovski University of North Texas



Calvinism, social conditions, political factors, Ancien Régime


This article reconsiders the societal conditions determining ascetic Protestantism such as Calvinism during its early development, as distinguished from its later effects on society. It argues that a multiplicity of social conditions impacted the rise and expansion of Calvinism. These involve political, religious, cultural and economic conditions of the rise of Calvinism. They indicate the original societal conditioning of Calvinism, as distinct from and empirically prior to its subsequent effects on societies. This analysis specifically focuses on the sociopolitical conditions and conjunctures influencing Calvinism. The article concludes that early Calvinism was the outcome of political and related societal conditions and historical conjunctures, specifically of the Ancien Régime, and only subsequently producing its social outcomes emphasized in the sociological literature. The article aims to contribute to abridging a gap in the sociological literature, which centers on Calvinism’s outcomes in society, including economy and politics, and decenters on its own societal, including political, conditions.

Author Biography

Milan Zafirovski, University of North Texas

Milan Zafirovski is Professor in the Department of Sociology at University of North Texas, USA. His research interests are interdisciplinary, encompassing sociology and economics and focusing on economic sociology and political economy. He is the editor of A Modern Guide to Economic Sociology (published in 2020) and International Handbook of Economic Sociology (to be published in 2022).


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How to Cite

Zafirovski, M. . (2021). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Political Power: Sociopolitical Conditions Underlying the Development of Calvinism. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 34(2), 131–154.