This article considers the Shakers' vibrant, expressive culture, which they referred to as “gifts” ("the gift of song,” “the dancing gift,” “the whirling gift,” and so on), as the source and sustenance of their charismatic communalism. Drawing on Max Weber's discussion of charisma and institution, and Marcel Mauss's famous description of the “gift economy,” I argue that Shaker society harbored a deep flexibility towards and admiration for creativity that allowed charismatic relations to co-exist alongside a strict top-down organization, and indeed, to take precedence at moments when the reinvigoration of social bonds was of crucial importance to the sect's continuance
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