The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism

By Bostaph, Sam | Ideas on Liberty, January 2002 | Go to article overview

The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism


Bostaph, Sam, Ideas on Liberty


The Fourth Great Awakening

and the Future of Egalitarianism

by Robert William Fogel

University of Chicago Press * 2000 * 383 pages * $25.00

Reviewed by Sam Bostaph

Robert Fogel argues that "egalitarianism" is a national ethic that has manifested itself in American history in three successive forms. During the eighteenth, and most of the nineteenth, century it took the form of desiring for everyone an "equality of opportunity" for material success. Toward the end of the nineteenth, and throughout most of the twentieth, century it was the "equality of condition" with respect to income and wealth that was the goal of the egalitarian ethic. At the turn of the present century there has been a return to the ethic of "equality of opportunity," but with a new twist. Now the term means to provide an equal opportunity for "spiritual" growth, for developing one's "spiritual assets," for achieving one's individual "potential," rather than a focus on providing mere access to the material means for self-improvement.

Fogel, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in economics, identifies American evangelical churches as the leading religious force in achieving political reforms in response to the perceived social inequities of each age. The crucial period of transformation in theological beliefs, and their expression in action, are the four "Great Awakenings" of his book's title. The inequities that produced each of the "awakenings" were themselves the result of the impact of technological change, manifested in economic institutions, on human cultural and physiological evolution. The guiding principle of social change is the way in which the ethic of "egalitarianism" is implemented in response to each "Great Awakening."

The first "awakening" was a response to the perception that the moral and political corruption of Britain was infecting the American colonies. It produced the American Revolution and paved the way for the second "awakening," which focused on individuals achieving a "state of grace." This led to the abolition of slavery and the attempt to create equality of opportunity for material advancement. It was the eventual frustration of achieving that latter goal, given the modern structure of industry, and the associated belief that poverty was a social, rather than an individual failure, which led to the third "Great Awakening." The latter belief eventually produced the welfare state as part of an attempt to achieve equality of condition, given the absence of equality of opportunity. The "Fourth Great Awakening" is Fogel's speculative title for the recent focus of evangelicals on the spiritual development of the individual in the face of certain perceived "inequities" in the possession of "spiritual assets," such as purposefulness, self-esteem, discipline, motivation, dedication to family and community, and intellectual curiosity.

Fogel ends with an outline of a reform agenda and a catalog of proposed measures for its implementation. He also characterizes his descriptive "cycle" model as one that reveals the continuity in 300 years of an American struggle to win over the world "to the egalitarian creed that is at the core of American political culture. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.