Introduction: Southcottians, Radicalism, and Agency

Dr Philip Lockley

in Visionary Religion and Radicalism in Early Industrial England

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199663873
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744792 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

Introduction: Southcottians, Radicalism, and Agency

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This chapter introduces the themes, concepts and questions which frame this study. The popular religion of Southcottianism is defined, and existing interpretations of its relationship to radical politics surveyed – including the work of E.P. Thompson, J.F.C. Harrison, James Hopkins, Barbara Taylor, Iain McCalman and others. The alternative approaches adopted in this study are described. These comprise both the use of new archive evidence and an interpretative perspective combining techniques from theology with social and cultural history. Recent scholarly debates over religion and agency are next gauged, before the theories of Phyllis Mack are introduced as a useful tool for understanding the social and political implications of millenarian religion and its practices. The chapter then stresses the limitations of existing heuristic categories of millennial beliefs – particularly pre- and postmillennialist distinctions – before introducing the new categories adopted in this study. Finally, the chronological scope and structure of the book are outlined.

Keywords: agency; J.F.C. Harrison; Phyllis Mack; premillennialism; postmillennialism; radicalism; southcottianism; barbara Taylor

Chapter.  11377 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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