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Lecture 2

SOC231H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Ancient Greek Religion, Conspicuous Consumption, Mcdonaldization


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC231H5
Professor
Zaheer Baber
Lecture
2

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I. Rationalization (Compare Marxs concept alienation)
Attempt to replace ambiguity, the unexpected, multiple possibilities or the richness
of life with calculated predictability
the bureaucratization of social life: proper rules, regulations, procedures etc.
IDs, Registration of Births, Deaths, Addresses, Names, etc. etc. (my birth; my
postman)
Weber: This universal phenomenon more and more restricts the importance of
charisma and individually differentiated conduct (Charismatic Bureaucrat??)
Rationalization of every sphere of life
Religion, Law, Politics, Art, Architecture, Education, Friendship, Relationships,
Music, Looks, Clothes etc. (Compare: Marx and commodification)
Pre-fabricated, McDonaldization of Life
Value Rationality: action framed by larger meaningful values; an end in itself, not a
means to an end; no narrow cost/benefit analysis (Mandela; Martin Luther King,
environmental activists, doctors who really want to heal etc.)
Formal Rationality: means-ends calculation; narrow cost-benefit analysis; action,
simply a means to some other end (most professional politicians; a tree is nothing
but wood for furniture; doctor who only wants to make money etc.) (People who
know the price of everything, but the value of nothing)
Value rationality appears to be irrational but formal irrationality is irrational
(Examples: The Environmental Movement; the Vietnam War, the debate over
healthcare)
Weber: specialists without spirits; the iron cage
Possible spheres that are not rationalized: the erotic and the aesthetic (art) spheres.
Specific quality of the modern world: shaped by the struggle between value and
formal rationality
II. RELIGION, RATIONALITY AND CAPITALISM
Religious ideas in a particular material context, in precipitating modern capitalism
India, China, Europe
All have the material conditions necessary for capitalism; other society do have
some forms of capitalism
But, modern, industrial rational capitalism originates in Europe
Religion of India; China: infinite variety of gods, spirits, supernatural forces etc.
Europe: ancient Greek religion many gods, goddesses and spirits etc.
Monotheism: process of rationalization. Judaism, Christianity, Islam (Weber DOES
NOT think this is superior or better; quite the contrary)
Europe: Reformation in 16th Century
Catholicism >>>>> Protestantism
DzThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalismdz
Calvinism: concept of predestination
either elected or damned predestined
Psychological burden; Calvin: no sign
Calvins followers: sign accumulation of wealth for God; intense, hard work to
combat self-doubt
every hour lost is lost to labor for the glory of god
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