Corporate Spirit

Religion and the Rise of the Modern Corporation

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Amanda Porterfield
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , April
     2018.
     216 pages.
     $34.95.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780199372652.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Tim Gloege forthcoming.

Description

In this groundbreaking work, Amanda Porterfield explores the long intertwining of religion and commerce in the history of incorporation in the United States. Beginning with the antecedents of that history in western Europe, she focuses on organizations to show how corporate strategies in religion and commerce developed symbiotically, and how religion has influenced the corporate structuring and commercial orientation of American society.

Porterfield begins her story in ancient Rome. She traces the development of corporate organization through medieval Europe and Elizabethan England and then to colonial North America, where organizational practices derived from religion infiltrated commerce, and commerce led to political independence. Left more to their own devices than under British law, religious groups in the United States experienced unprecedented autonomy that facilitated new forms of communal governance and new means of broadcasting their messages. As commercial enterprise expanded, religious organizations grew apace, helping many Americans absorb the shocks of economic turbulence, and promoting new conceptions of faith, spirit, and will power that contributed to business.

Porterfield highlights the role that American religious institutions played a society increasingly dominated by commercial incorporation and free market ideologies. She also shows how charitable impulses long nurtured by religion continued to stimulate reform and demand for accountability.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Amanda Porterfield is Robert A. Spivey Professor of Religion at the Florida State University. She is the author of Healing in the History of Christianity and the co-editor of The Business Turn in American Religious History (with Darren Grem and John Corrigan).

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