Wayward Puritans Book Review

1050 words 5 pages
As a sociologist, Kai T. Erikson looks at history as a reflection of changes in societal norms and expectations. Erikson re-visits his look at historical happenings of the Puritans in his novel “Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance”. By examining several “crime waves” throughout history, Erikson points out several aspects of how we see deviance. After researching Puritan lifestyle and the corresponding influences of deviance, Erikson explores the Antinomian Controversy, the Quaker Invasion, and the Witches of Salem Village. In his first chapter, Erikson gives regard to a foremost leader in sociology; Emile Durkheim. As he notes, crime is really a natural kind of social activity. If crime is a natural part of …show more content…

This definition of boundaries within a community brings us back to an initial assumption of Erikson in regard to the maintenance of a society. The Antinomian Controversy began with the inevitable discussion of how God’s covenant with each individual would transfer into His covenant with the Puritan people as a society. Needless to say, authorities needed to be appointed in order to guide individuals as a whole to heaven. With restriction, clergy were mostly responsible for the commonwealth. As more notable authorities were appointed, agitation grew. Erikson points out that “in its purest form, the covenant of grace was almost an invitation to anarchy, for it encouraged people to be guided by an inner sense of urgency rather than by an outer form of discipline”. The controversy between those who wanted to be ruled strictly by God, as they had set out to do by leaving England, and those who understood that their society could not succeed without rules, transformed from a religious experience to a strictly political one. Erikson reiterates that the Antinomian controversy, as well as several similar cases, illustrates the relationship between a community’s boundaries and the kinds of deviation likely to be encountered. To further explain his study of deviance in the Puritan era, Erikson turns to his second hypothesis about deviance: that