Jan 27 Weber: Protestant Ethic

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Joseph Wong

Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Jan 272011 ReadingsChapter 1Religious Affiliation and Social StratificationAccording to the occupational statistics of countries of mixed religious composition business leaders and owners and high skilled laborers are Protestant o Crosses lines of nationalityRicher districts tended to convert to Protestantism During the Protestant Reformation why did the districts that were most economically developed favorable for a revolution o Reformation did not eliminate the influence of Church but rather substituted one influence for another that was more penetrating in practiceThe greater participation of Protestants in capitalism is due to their inherited wealth o However this does not explain the phenomenaCatholics and Protestant parents tend to give their children different kinds of education and Catholics have more of a tendency than Protestants to stay in handicrafts rather than to go into industrySuggests that their environment has determined the choice of occupationProtestants have shown a much stronger tendency to develop economic rationalism than Catholics have Task is to investigate the religions and see what might have caused this behaviorOne explanation that the Catholics are more otherworldly and ascetic than Protestants and are therefore indifferent to material gain o However this does not fit the facts of today or the past and such generalities are not usefulThere might actually be an intimate relationship between capitalist acquisition and otherworldliness piety and asceticismo ie most Christians come from commercial circles and there is often a connection between otherworldly religious faith and commercial successo However not all Protestant circles have had an equally strong influence with Calvinism having a stronger force than LutheranismThus if there is any relationship between the ascetic Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism it will have to be found in purely religious characteristicsChapter 2The Spirit of CapitalismWhat does the term the spirit of capitalism mean o We must work out the best formulation based on what about that spirit interests usTo come up with a formulation Weber presents a long excerpt from the writings of Benjamin FranklinWeber says that Franklins attitudes illustrate capitalisms ethos o Franklin writes that time is money that credit is money and that money can beget moneyo He encourages all people to pay all of their debts on time because it encourages the confidence of otherso He also encourages people to present themselves as industrious and trustworthy at all times
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