Translating Social Movements: Reformed Temperance in Lutheran Denmark (1890 ‐ 1930)

Anders Sevelsted*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The article argues that social movements do not simply ‘diffuse’ across cultural contexts, but rather are adapted to such contexts. This is shown empirically through a case study of the translation of the international temperance movement to Denmark ca. 1895 – 1938. Drawing on theoretical inspirations from the sociology of translation, combined with cultural sociology and field theory, and analyzing a large corpus of texts from the Blue Cross’ archives, the study shows how the Blue Cross temperance organization, established by a small group of Copenhagen evangelicals, managed to successfully translate theological schemas and organizational forms of
the international movement to the national field of moral reform. These translations enabled the organization to form an alliance with one of the field ‘incumbents’, the Lutheran evangelical Home Mission. The translation of the temperance movement secured the Blue Cross’ long term survival.
The article contributes theoretically to social movement studies by introducing a translational conceptual framework that emphasizes the active role of local translators in the adaption of social movements between cultural contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventMovements and Morality - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 28 May 201928 May 2019


ConferenceMovements and Morality
LocationCopenhagen Business School
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