Brad Vermurlen



In the social sciences, religious marketing, branding, and entrepreneurship are closely associated with the religious economies paradigm, which suffers multiple troubles. This article argues that the agentic side of religious organizations can be helpfully reformulated as strategic action within religious institutional fields—not markets. Traditional religious leaders can and do skillfully work for their own success in the modern world. To illustrate this point, the article draws from recent work in sociology on contemporary Calvinists in the United States—namely, William McMillan’s Yale dissertation Cosmopolitan Calvinists and Brad Vermurlen’s Reformed Resurgence. The article concludes with a reiteration of its distinct contribution to studies of religion as well as addresses the question of generalizability by giving non-exhaustive examples of religious groups other than present-day Calvinists which can be understood vis-à-vis intentional strategic actions. This new thesis aligns well with recent scholarship on the “post-secular” character of contemporary societies.



Clergy/Ministers/Religious Professionals, Strategic Action, Field Theory, Post-secular, Conservative Protestantism, Marketing

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