Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The purpose of this study is threefold. First, it explores the complex religious, social, political, and intellectual changes that coursed through Massachusetts society from 1630 to 1763. Second, it assesses the validity of sociological modernization theory as a means of studying colonial society. Finally, it develops a psychological theory of modernization. Sources include public records, books, pamphlets, and documents from the period, and standard secondary works.;Modernization involves the evolution of western society from a traditional life style reflecting predominantly local, family, and religious concerns, to patterns of existence characterized by centralized political forms, modern economic structures and values, and secular and ideological modes of thought. Psychologically, it is characterized by concerns with self-esteem and by attempts to regain the lost gratifications of traditionalism.;Chapter one explores the traditional nature of early Massachusetts society and its transformation in the face of political and economic events of the seventeenth century. Chapters two and three follow the growth of the House of Representatives into an eighteenth-century modern, centralized political body, representative of both middle-class goals and popular thought and the most important regulatory force within the colony. Chapter four examines the emergence of the whig ideology, focusing on its secular roots, its function as a unifying agent, and its reflection of social and economic discontent.;The fifth chapter analyzes the ambivalent emotional and intellectual reactions of colonists to nascent, modern economic structures. Chapter six analyzes the Great Awakening as a crisis of generativity and cultural transference, a symptom of the inability of the colonists to bridge the gap between traditional and modern social structures. The final chapter is an overview of Massachusetts society from 1743 to 1763, stressing the alternating feelings of despair and hope in a society increasingly torn by political factionalism and economic discontent.;These changes resulted in a society that was, in 1763, more secular and more materialistically oriented than its seventeenth-century counterpart. But the earlier society continued to exert its hold on the later one, constraining and directing its development in directions that reflected the search for traditional social and emotional gratifications.



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