Social Location of the Reformation

  • R. W. Scribner
  • C. Scott Dixon
Part of the Studies in European History book series (SEURH)


We are now well accustomed to asking about the social composition of such movements of change, and this chapter will provide a brief sociology of the reform movement. To say that it found adherents among all social groups is an unhelpful truism. What we need to know for an adequate sociology is whether its adherents were drawn disproportionately from one social group or another, and whether there were significant differences in how each group understood its message. We should also examine any differences between leaders and followers, and whether there was any differential appeal in terms of age, gender, occupation or profession and wealth. We should also ask questions about different degrees of participation: were some people only lightly touched by its message, as opposed to more fervent adherents? Were different categories of adherents characterised by different forms of behaviour? Can we draw any significant distinction between active or passive adherents? At this stage of the research, it is difficult to provide firm answers to all these questions (see 55), but we now have enough case-studies to risk a crude sketch.


Reform Movement Town Council Christian Life Firm Answer City Secretary 
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Select Bibliography

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© R. W. Scribner 2003

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  • R. W. Scribner
  • C. Scott Dixon

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