Pietism and Economy (Pietismus und Oeconomie), 1650-1750
Call for Papers
"God is a capitalist, who has betrayed no one," wrote J.A. Wiegleb in a poem in 1716. Wiegleb belonged to the circle of August Hermann Francke, and his use of the economic metaphor regarding the question of salvation points to a fundamental ambivalence in the relationship between Pietism and economy. One the one hand, this relationship is marked by the virtually unquestioned use of up-to-date technologies and economic principles and efficient organization and administration by the pious reform movements of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, especially within the reach of Francke's influence. However, this well-intentioned use of economic rationality went along with criticisms of the contemporary socio-economic practices and their ramifications, such as lamentations of the neglect of the poor and their religious edification, or invectives against courtly life and luxury.
This ambivalent relationship of Pietism towards economic thinking and practice shall be the focus of this conference. This theme has heretofore received little attention in Pietism research this conference's attempt to define the relationship between Pietism and economy is not merely a further exploration of the well known thesis of Max Weber regarding the birth of modern capitalism from early modern religious reform movements. Rather, through an innovative convergence of theology, church history, early modern (secular) history, and economic history, this conference aspires to empirically gauge the relationship of Pietism and economy, a theme which arouses great interest and promises successful scholarly exchanges across disciplinary bounds.
The conference is being organized by an interdisciplinary and international working group: Wolfgang Breul, Mainz; Benjamin Marschke, Humboldt State (USA); Markus Matthias, Utrecht (NL); Alexander Schunka, Erfurt-Gotha; and Veronika Albrecht-Birkner, Siegen. The conference will take place 1-3 November 2012, in Mainz.
The theme "Pietism and Economy" can be approached in various ways. Preliminarily four facets are differentiated:
1. The economy of Pietist establishments.
Pietism, especially under Francke's influence, is traditionally associated with the establishment and maintenance of orphanages and other social welfare establishments as well as their enterprises. In the past decades several studies have presented corrections to the traditional picture of the pious social economy (Strδter, Spaans). However, the general connections between economics and social work in the decades around 1700 and especially the investigation of many details remains to be done, for example:
Case studies and analyses of the economics of orphanages and schools in the Pietist context and in comparison with similar establishments,
The adoption and reception of technological and administrative innovations in Pietist establishments and elsewhere,
Aspects of economic theory and practice at the Franckesche Stiftungen in Glaucha (Halle), or at the Herrnhut centers in Europe and North America in international comparison,
Fund-raising and the associated publicity for Pietist establishments,
The theory and practice of poor relief in Pietist view.
2. Pietist Economic Ethic
The new eschatological approach of Pietism, the "Hope for Better Times" on earth, not only opened new perspectives for acting in the worldly sphere global trade, but also oriented action more strongly according to religious principles than in other cases. This tension prompted questions about business ethics, which have not been fundamentally explored since the dissertation of Ernst Bartz (1934). Open to question is especially:
statements about business ethics by important leaders and currents within Pietism (including radical Pietism) and their contextualization within the discourses of economics and political science in the eighteenth century,
Descriptions and substantiations of the idea of a plain and simple lifestyle, as well as criticisms of luxury, wealth, and the outward forms of courtly life,
Alternative models of property ownership and their religious foundations (for example, communal property),
Perceptions of Pietist economy in foundational historical or social science works (Max Weber, Carl Hinrichs, etc.)
3. Pietist Economy of Time
The new eschatology brought forth a new way of dealing with time, especially in Halle Pietism. The present became an "open door" (Francke; cf. Revelation 3,8; 4,1) for the creation of an auspicious future. Believers had the duty to renounce leisure and in the "hope for better times for the church here on earth" (Spener) to be active assist in the "building of the city of God" (Francke) or the kingdom God. Among other things, to be considered is:
The connection between Pietist eschatology and economy of time,
The everyday management of time in Pietist circles (diaries, the regulation of time, regular prayer and reading hours, etc).
Criticisms of leisure and baroque divertissements, especially against the backdrop of the development of a new leisure culture in the eighteenth century.
4. Pietist Economy of Salvation
With the emphasis on practical piety and the religious experience, Pietism at least to some extent reintroduced into Protestant theology the idea of religious merit, which the Reformation had decidedly rejected. Regarding the economic aspects of Pietist soteriology, especially open to question is:
The ideas of reward and retribution in Pietist pamphlets promoting establishments for social work and for the education of children and adolescents,
The connection of actions and consequences in paradigmatic works of the Pietist ethic,
The application of economic principles and metaphors in Pietist theology and devotion.
The aforementioned facets are offered only preliminarily as a loose structure for the general theme. In all cases it is important to place the relationship between economy and Pietism in the general socio-economic structures and problems of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, in comparison with the ideas and practices of other religious and confessional groups beyond Pietism, and especially the motivations of profit and salvation with the diverse religious reform movements in the Atlantic world.
Already beginning in the eighteenth century and increasingly in the nineteenth century there were fundamental changes in economics and society as well as in theology and religious reform movements, so that later phenomena are difficult to compare. Therefore this conference will focus on the period from 1650 to 1750, though older origins and traditions, which Pietism explicitly or implicitly fell back on, will be included. A subsequent conference at a later date will concentrate on developments since the second half of the eighteenth century.
Proposals for paper presentations should be submitted by 28 February 2011 to Benjamin Marschke, Department of History, Humboldt State University (Arcata, CA, USA), email@example.com.
After the acceptance of proposals, synopses of presentations (approximately 500 words) will be requested by 30 June 2011.
Department of History
Humboldt State University
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521
firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com
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