SOC 233 Sept 28, 2011
Weber Con’t …
Spirit of Capitalism: The ideas and habits that favour the rational pursuit of economic gain.
The origins of capitalism come from religious ideas; macro approach.
Certain types of Protestantism (i.e., Cavinism) favoured rational pursuit of economic gain and
worldly activities which had been given positive spiritual and moral meaning.
Note – The ideas and habits that support capitalism.
Weber looked at several religions, not just Protestantism.
What replaces the salvation in Roman Catholicism, is worldly success in Protestantism.
Individuals were compelled to follow a nonreligious occupation to obtain wealth, and a decrease
in overall spending.
eg) Buying a lot of material, expensive items, was a sin.
Discouraged from contribution to charity; this was seen as laziness and would lead to divine
Note – Investment is the essence of capitalism.
Modern capitalism grows partly out of the religious pursuit of wealth (i.e., Protestanism –
Leaders of economic systems were overwhelmingly Protestant.
Other religions failed to produce the idea systems that impelled individuals to be economic
leaders in a capitalist system.
Accumulation is the road to salvation!
Weber’s Understanding of Social Action
Sociology is concerned with the interpretive understanding of social action.
Action (subjective) Interpretation of that Action Reaction to Initial Action (objective).
Note – Actions are social in nature; subjective.
4 Ideal Types of Social Action (Symblolic Interactionist Approach):
1. Instrumentally Rational Action / Rational
Rational means to get to a rational end.
eg) Sitting in class (rational means) to finish a degree and get a job (rational end).
Behaviour in which the means and the ends are related; connected in a rational way.
eg) I didn’t study for an exam and can’t get caught if I cheat, so I will let the person who can get
me an A write the exam.
2. Value-Rational Action / Rational
Social action based on values and morals.
No rational “end;” regardless of outcome, you follow your values and morals when decision
eg) I know I can’t get caught cheating on an exam, but I can’t beca