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Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology…

Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance

by Kai T. Erikson

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The New England Puritans had a unique society and government that impacted the foundation of the United States. A few Puritans left England in order to form an experimental society to prove that living by the Bible and following Puritan beliefs were the way to live a righteous life. Throughout this experiment the Puritans were subject to three major conflicts that challenged and reshaped their beliefs: the Antinomian controversy, the Quaker invasion, and the witches of Salem Village. Erikson uses these three conflicts in New England Puritan history to illustrate that deviance is a necessary and helpful aspect of society. By punishing those deviants on the outskirts of society the Puritans are able to reinforce the appropriate standards of life.

Erikson does a wonderful job explaining the sociology of deviance in New England Puritan society while making it applicable to other societies throughout history. The examination of deviance in Puritan society illuminates how deviance is an important part of culture. Anyone interested in deviance would be interested in this book, especially if history interests you as well. ( )
1 vote goose114 | Feb 8, 2011 |
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This book uses the Puritan settlement in 17th-century Massachusetts as a setting in which to examine several ideas about deviant behavior in society. Combining sociology and history, Erikson draws on the records of the Bay Colony to illustrate the way in which deviant behavior fits in the texture of social life generally. The main argument of Wayward Puritans is that deviant forms of behavior are often a valuable resource in society, providing a point of contrast which is necessary for the maintenance of a coherent social order.… (more)

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