The American Sociologist

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 142–173

The Merton Theorem Revisited and Restated: Conservatism and Fascism as Functional Analogues


DOI: 10.1007/s12108-010-9091-0

Cite this article as:
Zafirovski, M. Am Soc (2010) 41: 142. doi:10.1007/s12108-010-9091-0


The paper revisits and restates the Merton Theorem of American religious conservatism (Puritanism) and European fascism (Nazism) as functional analogues. The original formulation the Merton Theorem identifies and describes them as functional analogues in nativism or nationalism through exclusion of and aggression against non-native out-groups. The paper offers an extended restatement of the Merton Theorem in which American conservatism and European fascism function as functional analogues in that both represent the model of a closed, or the antithesis to an open, society, of which nativism is a special case. In the extended Merton Theorem they are functional analogues specifically in terms of such indicators or dimensions of a closed society as political absolutism, closure and oppression, religious absolutism and nihilism, moral absolutism and repression, and extremism.


Merton theoremConservatismFascismPuritanism

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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA