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Lecture 14

Lecture 14 01-21-13.pdf

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Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

Weber: Protestant Ethic 2013-01-21 12:09 PM Why did the West Get Rich? - They stole it: imperialism - Problem: why didn’t they steal it from us first? - What are the origins of technological superiority? - The west got rich because they had a military advantage which allowed them to steal - Problems with the theory: Generalizes as Europeans bad, non- Europeans good - It can’t just be that the west was militarily superior - One of the first militarily superior countries was Spain but they are not one of the most powerful countries in the world - Weather: warming up of Europe after 15 th Century - Problem: why didn’t warm areas get rich first? Max Weber - What was it about northwest part of Europe that made it unique? - Protestantism and capitalism - Weber wasn’t the first to do this: in fact most social theorists were responding to Karl Marx Protestant Ethic - Published as two long articles in 1904 and 1905 - Opens it with a statistical fact: “business leaders and owners of capital - Not merely a contemporary fact but a historical fact: tracing the association back, it can be shown that some of the early centers of th capitalist development in the early part of the 16 Century were strongly protestant - Ready explanation? Breaks with economic traditionalism produced a sloughing off tradition and of religious institution - Protestantism had less tradition, less superstition, allowed it to flourish - But this interpretation does not stand up to scrutiny - Reformation not an escape from controls of church - It involved a much higher degree of regulation of behavior than that which was demanded by Catholicism - Protestantism adopts a stringent attitude toward relaxation and enjoyment – especially renounced in Calvinism - Therefore: must look to specific character of Protestants beliefs if we are to account for connection between Protestantism and economic rationality - Weber not the first to see the correlation between the capitalism and Prot. Bit usual interpretation was Marxist: Protestantism is ideological reflection of economic changes in early capitalism - Weber’s originality is in arguing that usually people caught up with economic activity are indifferent or hostile to religion (their actions are directed to material world; Religion is directed to immaterial world) - But Protestantism did not relax control over day to day activities but intensified it and demanded more rigorous discipline than Catholicism - Thus, injected a religious factor into all spheres of life of the believer. There is clearly a relationship between Protestantism and modern capitalism which cannot be wholly explained by seeing the former as a “result” of the latter - Every moment and action is to achieve a state of grace - Weber distinguishes other forms of capitalism as “economic traditionalism” The attitudes toward labour are symptomatic of this: “A man does not ‘by nature’ wish to earn more and more money, but simply to live as he lives and as he is accustomed to live, and to earn as much as is required to do so” - Suppress the desire to accumulate, live poorly - Traditionalism is by no means incompatible with greed for wealth. “Absolute and conscious ruthlessness in acquisition has often stood in direct and close connection with the strictest - This is quite different from modern capitalism, however which is founded not on the amoral pursuit of gain, buy on the disciplined obligation to work as a duty - It is not a passion but something one must do - The dominant characteristic of modern capitalist economy is that - The concept od the “calling” (Beruf) only came into being at the time of the reformation. It is not found, nor does an
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