The trap of intellectual success: Robert N. Bellah, the American civil religion debate, and the sociology of knowledge

  title={The trap of intellectual success: Robert N. Bellah, the American civil religion debate, and the sociology of knowledge},
  author={Matteo Bortolini},
  journal={Theory and Society},
Current sociology of knowledge tends to take for granted Robert K. Merton’s theory of cumulative advantage: successful ideas bring recognition to their authors, successful authors have their ideas recognized more easily than unknown ones. This article argues that this theory should be revised via the introduction of the differential between the status of an idea and that of its creator: when an idea is more important than its creator, the latter becomes identified with the former, and this will… 
“The Status of the Classics: A View from Today” (comment on Donald Levine, “The Variable Status of the Classics in Differing Narratives of the Sociological Tradition”)
Donald Levine’s “Variable Status of the Classics” was originally presented in 1994 at the XIII World Congress of Sociology. Two decades later, its most general point still holds: there is much more
Why the Covenant Worked: On the Institutional Foundations of the American Civil Religion
Scholars of American civil religion (ACR) have paid insufficient attention to the micro-level processes through which civil religious ideas have historically influenced beliefs and behavior. We know
Contesting Civil Religion: Religious Responses to American Patriotic Nationalism, 1919-1929
  • Michael Lienesch
  • Sociology, Political Science
    Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation
  • 2018
Abstract Since the publication fifty years ago of Robert N. Bellah's classic article “Civil Religion in America,” the concept of civil religion has provoked continuing debates among scholars who
Civil Religion as Myth, Not History
This article draws upon recent historiography to critique the concept of “civil religion”, and argues that it should be replaced by nationalism. Its central point is that there is indeed a dominant
The Sociologist from Marienbad: Werner Stark between Catholicism and Social Science
This paper examines the life and career of the prominent sociologist Werner Stark (1909–1985), born and raised in Marienbad, Bohemia, and after 1918 in the multi-ethnic state of Czechoslovakia. As a
Examining Pancasila’s Position in the Public Reason Scheme: A Critical Analysis
This research tries to review a number of ideas of some Indonesian scholars such as Yudi Latif, Franz Magnis-Suseno, and Syamsul Ma'arif, who saw and described the relationship between Pancasila and
Clifford Geertz, intellectual autonomy, and interpretive social science
  • A. Cossu
  • Sociology
    American Journal of Cultural Sociology
  • 2019
Clifford Geertz was a key protagonist in the development of “interpretive social science,” but much of our understanding of his position as an intellectual neglects the crucial years before the
The “Bellah Affair” at Princeton
The so-called “Bellah affair at Princeton” began in March 1973 when a harsh but nonetheless ordinary academic fight over the appointment of Robert N. Bellah as a permanent member of the Institute for
On the Ambivalence of the Aphorism in Sociological Theory
Sociologists have long been taken by certain pithy expressions from the founders of the discipline. We propose here both a new explanation for the endurance of these statements as well as an analysis
Toward a Comparative Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation
This review discusses North American and European research from the sociology of valuation and evaluation (SVE), a research topic that has attracted considerable attention in recent years. The goal


Guest Editorial: Robert N. Bellah's Theory of America's Eschatological Hope
In 1967, Robert N. Bellah wrote an article entitled "Civil Reli gion in America,"1 in which he claimed that there "actually exists alongside of and rather clearly differentiated from the churches an
Civil Religion and the History of Democratic Modernity: Probing the Limits of the Sacred and the Secular
The aim of this essay is to introduce readers to recent work on the concept of ‘civil religion’, what might be regarded as the democratic variant of political religion. Ever since 1967, when the
A General Theory of Scientific/Intellectual Movements
The histories of all modern scientific and intellectual fields are marked by dynamism. Yet, despite a welter of case study data, sociologists of ideas have been slow to develop general theories for
The contemporary crisis and the social relations department at Harvard: A case study in hegemony and disintegration
The history of sociology is marked by periods of theoretical pluralism and hegemony. Their interplay has resulted in the slow and uneven development of the discipline. Today, however, bodies of
The Sociology of Philosophies
A chapter-by-chapter précis is presented of Randall Collins’s book, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. It presents a sociological theory of intellectual networks
How to Become a Forgotten Intellectual: Intellectual Movements and the Rise and Fall of Erich Fromm
The ideas and reputational history of German psychoanalyst and sociologist Erich Fromm are examined as a case study in the sociology of knowledge that explores how intellectual boundaries are
Max Weber: An Intellectual Biography
Max Weber was one of the mostinfluential and creative intellectual forces of the twentieth century. In his methodology of the social sciences, he both exposed the flaws and solidified thefoundations
How to Become a Dominant French Philosopher: The Case of Jacques Derrida
  • M. Lamont
  • Art
    American Journal of Sociology
  • 1987
How can an interpretive theory gain legitimacy in two cultural markets as different as France and the United States? This study examines the intellectual, cultural, institutional, and social
HERE AND EVERYWHERE: Sociology of Scientific Knowledge
The sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) is one of the profession’s most marginal specialties, yet its objects of inquiry, its modes of inquiry, and certain of its findings have very substantial
When, in 1975, Joseph Ben-David and Teresa Sullivan reviewed the "Sociology of Science" for this series, they did not need to mention the sociology of scientific knowledge. Just six years later,