Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Sep 14, The Protestant Ethic spawned and encouraged what Weber called the "spirit which Weber quoted is "Necessary Hints to Those That Would Be Rich. . did not see a linear relationship between capitalism and Protestantism. From "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ", it appears Weber analysis was that Protestant was more pro-trade, to work hard on worldly. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German To illustrate his theory, Weber quotes the ethical writings of Benjamin Franklin: . They included a closer relationship between mathematics and observation, the enhanced value of scholarship, rational systematization of.
He was particularly thinking of countries such as England and the Netherlands, which were home to large numbers of Puritans and Calvinists, many of whom migrated to North America in the seventeenth century.
These forms of Protestantism, Weber posited, ingrained the belief among their adherents that they should avoid superficial hobbies, games, and entertainment. Instead, Christians should commit themselves totally to whatever calling to which God had summoned them.
Weber believed that these forms of Protestantism, especially their central doctrine of predestination, helped to foster the type of focused minds and disciplined work habits that are essential for market economies. Weber interpreted Calvin as suggesting that one indication of election was the acquisition of wealth.
This, in turn, fostered a spirit that encouraged believers to grow ever-greater amounts of wealth. After all, many culturally Catholic countries such as Portugal and Spain—not to mention almost all Latin American nations—have lagged behind other Western nations in terms of economic development.
The Westminster Confession also stresses that believers must ensure that their earthly vocation does not distract them from pursuing their heavenly calling.
Weber, by contrast, seems to conflate the two. Nothing in the text suggests any particular emphasis on commerce, let alone the idea that acquiring material wealth was somehow a sign of being among the elect. This was not a medieval version of some type of prosperity gospel. Rather, it symbolized just how naturally intertwined were the realms of faith and commerce throughout the world of medieval Europe.
Later he would associate "Luther, the symbolic exponent of bureaucratic despotismwith the ascetic hostility to Eros — an example of Weber's sporadic tendency to link together bureaucratic and ascetic modes of life and to oppose both from mystical and aristocratic perspectives. According to the new Protestant religions, an individual was religiously compelled to follow a secular vocation German: Beruf with as much zeal as possible.
A person living according to this world view was more likely to accumulate money. The new religions in particular, Calvinism and other more austere Protestant sects effectively forbade wastefully using hard earned money and identified the purchase of luxuries as a sin. Donations to an individual's church or congregation were limited due to the rejection by certain Protestant sects of icons.
Finally, donation of money to the poor or to charity was generally frowned on as it was seen as furthering beggary. This social condition was perceived as laziness, burdening their fellow man, and an affront to God; by not working, one failed to glorify God.
The manner in which this paradox was resolved, Weber argued, was the investment of this money, which gave an extreme boost to nascent capitalism. The Protestant work ethic in Weber's time[ edit ] By the time Weber wrote his essay, he believed that the religious underpinnings of the Protestant ethic had largely gone from society. He cited the writings of Benjamin Franklinwhich emphasized frugality, hard work and thrift, but were mostly free of spiritual content.
Weber also attributed the success of mass production partly to the Protestant ethic. Only after expensive luxuries were disdained could individuals accept the uniform products, such as clothes and furniture, that industrialization offered. In his remarkably prescient conclusion to the book, Weber lamented that the loss of religious underpinning to capitalism's spirit has led to a kind of involuntary servitude to mechanized industry.
The Puritan wanted to work in calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order.
This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt.
PageScribner's edition. Weber maintained that while Puritan religious ideas had significantly impacted the development of economic system in Europe and United States, there were other factors in play, as well.
MercatorNet: Did the Protestant work ethic create capitalism?
They included a closer relationship between mathematics and observationthe enhanced value of scholarship, rational systematization of government administration, and an increase in entrepreneurship ventures. In the end, the study of Protestant ethic, according to Weber, investigated a part of the detachment from magicthat disenchantment of the world that could be seen as a unique characteristic of Western culture.
Another reason for Weber's decision was that Troeltsch's work already achieved what he desired in that area, which is laying groundwork for comparative analysis of religion and society. Weber moved beyond Protestantism with his research but would continue research into sociology of religion within his later works the study of Judaism and the religions of China and India.
His idea of modern capitalism as growing out of the religious pursuit of wealth meant a change to a rational means of existence, wealth. That is to say, at some point the Calvinist rationale informing the "spirit" of capitalism became unreliant on the underlying religious movement behind it, leaving only rational capitalism. In essence then, Weber's "Spirit of Capitalism" is effectively and more broadly a Spirit of Rationalization. Reception[ edit ] The essay can also be interpreted as one of Weber's criticisms of Karl Marx and his theories.
While Marx's historical materialism held that all human institutions — including religion — were based on economic foundations, many have seen The Protestant Ethic as turning this theory on its head by implying that a religious movement fostered capitalism, not the other way around. Weber states in the closing of this essay, "it is, of course, not my aim to substitute for a one-sided materialistic an equally one-sided spiritualistic causal interpretation of culture and history.
Each is equally possible, but each if it does not serve as the preparation, but as the conclusion of an investigation, accomplishes equally little in the interest of historical truth. Luther's Conception of the Calling.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Task of the Investigation. Weber, unlike others in the German School, spent little time describing the role played by economic policies of governments in economic change. He focused, as did Werner Sombart, more on the study of modern capitalism, its natureand the causes of its rise. Weber did not originate the thesis linking Protestantism and capitalism, as he himself pointed out.
Earlier writers, including the English economist William Petty, made some of these links. Nevertheless, Weber argues that these behavioral changes alone could not bring about modern capitalism as it required the appropriate set of conditions in the economic sphere.
To clarify his contention on the uniqueness of the west, Weber undertook several major studies in the sociology of religions in different areas, particularly Asia, in order to understand why other religions did not generate the emergence of a modern capitalism.
These comparative religious studies have yielded insights into the impact of these different religious systems in China, India, and elsewhere, and their impacts on behavior.
To some scholars, however, it was the political nature and openness to new beliefs and innovations in those countries in northwest Europe that lead to developments in science, business, and political freedom that permitted economic and scientific progress to take place. The issue of the relation of Protestantism and capitalism remains a historic perennial, frequently cited and necessarily discussed and evaluated in all works dealing with its general time period.
Weber clearly had raised a central issue for historic studies.
First, they have made central the question of the uniqueness of western civilization and the nature of its economicand social development. Whatever might have been the relative incomes of different parts of the world beforeit is clear that since then economic growth has been much more rapid in Western Europe and its overseas off shoots than in other parts of the world.
Modern economic growth has taken place with a quite different economic and social structure from that which had existed earlier. Economic growth occurred at roughly the same time, or soon after, these areas experienced the rise of Protestant religions. Some may hold this similarity to be of completely different occurrences, but for many such a non-relationship would seem difficult to understand and accept. Second, Weber has pointed to the significance of non-pecuniary or what some would call non-economic factors in influencing economic change, at least in conjunction with some appropriate set of conditions.
For Weber, the key non-pecuniary factor wasbased on a particular religion and set of religious codes; to others it was a religious influence, but from a different religion, such as Catholicism or Judaism; while to other scholars it has been some different factorleading to behavior changes, such as rationalism, individualism, or the development of an economic ethic.
Some, such as R. To still other scholars, the major factor has been the nature of a minority group of penalized outsiders in society. These scholars include William Petty, who looked at several different areas in the seventeenth century, Sombart and Thorstein Veblen who wrote on the Jews, and Alexander Gerschenkron who examined the Russian Old Believers. Each of these explanations has been advanced in the attempt to describe the primary cause of those changes in economic behavior that have lead to the distinction between the modern and pre-modern worlds.
These studies, by such leading economic historians as Nathan Rosenberg with L. Posited answers include the role of political freedom, the development of property rights, changes in technology and organization of workers, the changing ratio of land to labor, the reactions to different environmental conditions, the emergence of markets, the rise of rational thought, the inflow of specie and various others.
Some focus more on what might be regarded as economic factors, while others are more in theWeberian tradition, even if there is no unanimity concerning specific causal factors. Nevertheless, it is clear that as long as there is a belief that the economic performance of Western Europe has been unique, Weber has presentedan argument that must be confronted.
Early in the second half of the twentieth century a non-western nation, Japan, as well as, somewhat later, several East Asian nations, came to experience some of the characteristics of modern economic and social change, with the development of a pattern of thrift and of a work ethic even if cooperative not individualistbut with a different form of religion. Despite the frequency of the criticism, of the specific hypothesis in the past, the Weber thesis remains central to posing questions about the onset of modern economic growth and social and religious change in seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Western Europe.
Its importance as a spiritual and ideological counter to a concentration on material conditions, as in the works of Karl Marx, provides an alternative approach to understanding economic change.Max Weber and the Protestant Ethic
In addition to the debates on economic growth there are subsidiary questions about related aspects of western development, which might be regarded as either substitutes for or complements to the Weber Thesis. These include debates on the rise of individualism, the causes ofthe development of a more deliberate and rational approach to economic and other behavior, and the link between the emergence of modern capitalism and modern science.