Cover image for The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism
The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism
Fogel, Robert William.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
383 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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JC575 .F64 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Robert William Fogel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1993.

"To take a trip around the mind of Robert Fogel, one of the grand old men of American economic history, is a rare treat. At every turning, you come upon some shiny pearl of information."-- The Economist

In this broad-thinking and profound piece of history, Robert William Fogel synthesizes an amazing range of data into a bold and intriguing view of America's past and future--one in which the periodic Great Awakenings of religion bring about waves of social reform, the material lives of even the poorest Americans improve steadily, and the nation now stands poised for a renewed burst of egalitarian progress.

Author Notes

Robert William Fogel is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions in the Graduate School of Business, director of the Center for Population Economics, and a member of the Department of Economics and of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist Fogel (Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery) ambitiously tries to integrate the history of American religion with the history of social reform and the move toward equality. Fogel says that 18th- and 19th-century America experienced three large religious revivals--or Great Awakenings--each bringing about social reforms. The first awakening began in 1730 and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution. The second began in 1800, and inspired abolitionists and temperance workers. The mandate of the third awakening, which began in 1890, was the welfare state, which culminated in the 1930s. And we are now, Fogel suggests, in the middle of a fourth awakening, which began in 1950. Fogel argues that the egalitarian platforms of the third awakening have been more or less implemented--the condition of the poorest families in America, he suggests, has improved dramatically; the labor reforms that Social Gospelers called for have been written into law; many people have access to decent health care. In order to make America even more egalitarian, says Fogel, we will need a new agenda. Leaders in the fourth great awakening, he suggests, have emphasized spiritual, rather than material, equity--they are interested in redistributing "spiritual resources" and in helping Americans of all ranks become self-actualized (he identifies spiritual assets as "a sense of purpose, self-esteem, a sense of discipline, a thirst for knowledge"). Fogel applauds the democratizing of self-realization, and he emphasizes the need to provide an education for all; he is especially keen to see more Americans pursuing higher education. Fogel's thesis is provocative, though some readers may question his emphasis on higher education, which he seems to suggest would be a panacea for all America's ills. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this profound piece of intellectual history, economist and Nobel prize winner Fogel (American studies, Univ. of Chicago) advocates breaking American history up into distinctive religious revivals, or Great Awakenings. Viewing these awakenings as political events, Fogel suggests they represent "the leading edge of an ideological and political response to the accumulated technological, economic, and social changes that undermine the received culture." Focusing on these evangelical religious revivals, he concludes that our era is in the midst of a Fourth Great Awakening. This latest awakening is calling America to develop its spiritual resources to cope with the ethical implications of technological advances like transplantation, gene therapies, and nuclear proliferation. Although one might not agree with all of Fogel's perspectives, he certainly provides a historical and critical structure on which to hang long-term forecasts for American intellectual and social history. Recommended for advanced American studies and religion collections.--Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Nobel laureate Fogel's effort to capture the grand sweep of American history, drawing upon his decades of economic research, is structured around religion historian William McLoughlin's concept of "great awakenings." Fogel views these awakenings as religious and political responses to technological changes periodically transforming the economic and social landscape. With each awakening, Americans reevaluate their ethical values, reinterpreting, in particular, their commitment to egalitarianism, which Fogel regards as a national ethic. The success of these religious and political efforts to achieve their egalitarian goals is measured broadly by Fogel using not only economic standards of income and wealth but biomedical criteria on health and life expectancies. In Fogel's view, the effort to reduce material inequality achieved success in the 20th century. During the 21st century--in the fourth great awakening--"spiritual" rather than material resources will be the principal concern for modern egalitarians. Possession of these spiritual resources--virtues such as the work ethic, discipline, and benevolence--will permit self-realization, the new hallmark of postmodern affluence. Though not always convincing, Fogel's interpretation is a thought-provoking chronicle of America's struggle for egalitarianism. Recommended for public and academic library collections. R. S. Hewett; Drake University

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Egalitarian Creed in Americap. 1
1 The Fourth Great Awakening, the Political Realignment of the 1990s, and the Potential for Egalitarian Reformp. 15
2 Technological Change, Cultural Transformations, and Political Crisesp. 44
3 The Triumph of the Modern Egalitarian Ethicp. 84
4 The Egalitarian Revolution of the Twentieth Centuryp. 137
5 The Emergence of a Postmodern Egalitarian Agendap. 176
Afterword: Whither Goes Our World?p. 236
Acknowledgmentsp. 243
Appendicesp. 249
Notesp. 285
Referencesp. 325
Indexp. 375