Meaning of elective affinity in English:

elective affinity


  • A correspondence with, or feeling of sympathy or attraction towards, a particular idea, attitude, or person.

    ‘there is an elective affinity between this cultural vision and the religious vision of the Church’
    • ‘Much of the analysis of the elective affinity between religious ideas and apocalyptic violence will not be completely new to those who have followed the work of such scholars as Thomas Robbins, John Hall, or Michael Barkun.’
    • ‘It underwent its own transformations, though always exhibiting an elective affinity with idealism, relativism, historicism, a hermeneutic style of analysis, and what we now call identity politics.…’
    • ‘For this reason Shakespeare and America have a strong elective affinity, for it is in America, according to Emerson, that the social aims of individuality and self-reliance will be most fully realized.’
    • ‘There was an elective affinity between Buddhism and city merchants, who were among the founding members of the complex urbane society which the Buddha's teaching addressed.’
    • ‘Although there is an obvious elective affinity for police officers between their role as upholders of authority and conservative politics and morality, this is by no means a constant.’
    • ‘Likewise, Weber's idea of elective affinity asserts that classes are partially constituted by religious values that help people make sense of their position in the class structure.’
    • ‘The key is an elective affinity with pervasive patterns of cultural change in the advanced industrial societies of the West.’
    • ‘Germans needed to remember their elective affinity with the United States that had been growing in the decades prior to 1900.’
    • ‘Each class has an elective affinity for a distinct brand of religious belief.’


Mid 18th century (as elective attraction): originally a technical term for the preferential combination of chemical substances, it was widely used figuratively in the 19th century, notably by Goethe (in his novel Die Wahlverwandschaften ‘Elective Affinities’) and by Weber (in describing the correspondence between aspects of Protestantism and capitalism).