Jan. 24 , 2011
Weber: Protestant Ethic
Why are some areas rich, while others are poor?
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?
Weather: warming up of Europe after 15 century?
Problem: why didn’t warm areas get rich first?
What was it about northwest part of Europe that made it unique?
Protestantism & capitalism (Protestantism ideology of capitalists because it was
less restrictive; Marxism)
Weber was not the first to do this: in fact most social theorists were responding to
Published as two long articles in 1904 & 1905
Opens it with a statistical fact: “business leaders..
Not merely a contemporary fact but a historical fact: tracing the association back,
it can be shown that some of the early centers of capitalist development were Protestant
But this interpretation does not stand up to scrutiny
Reformation not an escape from controls of the church
It involved a much higher degree of regulation of behaviour than that which was
demanded by Catholicism
Protestantism adopts a stringent attitude towards relaxation & enjoyment –
especially renounced in Calvinism
Therefore: must look to specific character of Protestant beliefs if we are to
account for connection between Protestantism & economic rationality
Weber not the first to see the correlation between capitalism & Protestantism,
but usual interpretation was Marxist
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 of church over day to day activities but
intensified it & demanded MORE rigorous discipline than Catholicism
www.notesolution.com Injected a religious factor into all spheres of life of the believer
Anomaly demands 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 & as he is accustomed to live,
& to earn..
Traditionalism is by no means incompatible with greed for wealth: “absolute &
conscious ruthlessness in acquisition has often.. so “adventurers capitalism” pirates,
booty through military conquest
Quite different from modern capitalism, however, which is founded not on the
amoral pursuit of gain
Weber identifies the principal features of the “spirit” of modern capitalism:
Concept of the calling (Beruf) only came into being at the time of the reformation.
It is not found, nor does any synonym exist in Catholicism or antiquity. It serves to
bring the mundane affairs of everyday life within an all-embracing religious influence.
The calling of the individual is to fulfill his duty to god through the moral conduct of his
Impels the emphasis of Protestantism. Away from the catholic ideal of monastic
isolation, with rejection of temporal, into worldly pursuits
Lutheranism, however, cannot be regarded as the mains source of capitalis