Religion, Americanization, and the Common Man

May 08, 1997

Alois Mertes Memorial Lecture at the GHI | Speaker: Michael Zöller (University of Bayreuth)

On May 8, 1997, Professor Michael Zöller of Bayreuth University presented the Seventh Alois Mertes Memorial Lecture at the German Historical Institute.

Professor Zöller began his presentation entitled "Religion, Americanization, and the Common Man" by stating how closely his own scholarly work was related to several issues that the late Alois Mertes himself had often dealt with. These included, above all, the relationship between religion and politics. Professor Zöller noted that his institute at Bayreuth is engaged in what he refers to as "the cultural interpretation of societies," to be achieved by combining the study of religion and the study of politics.

Professor Zöller divided his lecture at the German Historical Institute into three parts. The first contained some theoretical remarks on the cultural explanation of societies, which has been established and practiced by scholars as diverse as Max Weber, Oswald Spengler, and Samuel Huntington. The second part consisted of the presentation of selected research results, three examples of which were the Puritan ethical and social system, the role of Roman Catholics in America, and the connections between nineteenth-century populism and contemporary religious fundamentalism. Finally, Professor Zöller contributed a few words about the merits and the dangers of cultural explanations.