Societal Coercion and Path-Dependence: Punishment and Puritanism in Contemporary Societies – International Sociology – article

Societal Coercion and Path-Dependence: Punishment and Puritanism in Contemporary Societies

Milan Zafirovski | International Sociology

2019-10-22

The article analyzes the connections between societal coercion and punishment in contemporary Western and related societies and a particular form of religion, namely Puritanism and its theocracy. It argues that Puritanism and its theocracy tend to determine the level of coercion and punishment in the US and hence make the latter path-dependent on the former. It traces the historical path from Puritanism in the past to coercion and punishment in the US in later eras and today. It adopts the concept and outlines the model of coercive theocracy represented in a functionalist scheme. It first re-examines the Puritan theocracy in early America, in particular its pervasive use and prescription of capital and harsh punishment and the reign of state terror overall. It then focuses on coercion and punishment in Western and other contemporary societies positing that Puritan theocracy or Puritanism has left an enduring legacy in these practices.

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