From the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism

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from the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber

The Protestant ethic — a moral code stressing hard work, rigorous self-discipline, and the organization of ones life in the service of God — was made famous by sociologist and political economist Max Weber. In this brilliant study (his best-known and most controversial), he opposes the Marxist concept of dialectical materialism and its view that change takes place through the struggle of opposites. Instead, he relates the rise of a capitalist economy to the Puritan determination to work out anxiety over salvation or damnation by performing good deeds — an effort that ultimately discouraged belief in predestination and encouraged capitalism. Webers classic study has long been required reading in college and advanced high school social studies classrooms.
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7.8 The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism

Weber’s Protestant Ethic: a Marxist Critique

Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a study of the relationship between the ethics of ascetic Protestantism and the emergence of the spirit of modern capitalism. Weber argues that the religious ideas of groups such as the Calvinists played a role in creating the capitalistic spirit. Weber first observes a correlation between being Protestant and being involved in business, and declares his intent to explore religion as a potential cause of the modern economic conditions. He argues that the modern spirit of capitalism sees profit as an end in itself, and pursuing profit as virtuous. Weber's goal is to understand the source of this spirit. He turns to Protestantism for a potential explanation. Protestantism offers a concept of the worldly "calling," and gives worldly activity a religious character.

German sociologist Max Weber , in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism —05 , held that the Protestant ethic was an important factor in the economic success of Protestant groups in the early stages of European capitalism; because worldly success could be interpreted as a sign of eternal salvation, it was vigorously pursued. Although English historian R. Protestant ethic. Article Media. Info Print Cite.

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Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in and , and was translated into English for the first time by American sociologist Talcott Parsons in In the book, Weber wrote that capitalism in Northern Europe evolved when the Protestant particularly Calvinist ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investment. In other words, the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism. In , the International Sociological Association listed this work as the fourth most important sociological book of the 20th century. Although not a detailed study of Protestantism but rather an introduction to Weber's later studies of interaction between various religious ideas and economics The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism , The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism , and Ancient Judaism , The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism argues that Puritan ethics and ideas influenced the development of capitalism.

I make an attempt to contrast his worldview with that of Marx and other authors in the historical materialist tradition. Protestant asceticism is considered by Weber a central ideological underpinning for the emergence of modern capitalism. Although he lays out a nuanced analysis—widely overstretched by many scholars following his line of thought—he explicitly criticizes historical materialism as a framework that is inadequate in explaining the rise of capitalism. In The Protestant Ethic we can identify what is arguably the central debate between Weberian and Marxist schools of thought: the predominance of ideas versus the centrality of material conditions and class struggle in the making of history. Moreover, a reverse causality hypothesis has been proposed with convincing although not definitive argumentation. Finally, two aspects of The Protestant Ethic gravely undermine its explanatory power and compromise its historical accuracy: the complete lack of reference to material conditions, including the process of primitive accumulation , as a driving thrust for capitalism to develop; and the poor quality of the evidence provided. Even though all his work can be understood as part of a constant discussion with Marxism, in The Protestant Ethic he puts forward a theory of the origins of capitalism that draws a sharp contrast with historical materialism.


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    Journal of Business Ethics.

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    SparkNotes: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Summary

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    Weber’s Protestant Ethic: a Marxist Critique | Left Voice

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    The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism | work by Weber |

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