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Chapter 10

Sociology 231 chapter 10 and 11 notes and Lecture Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Zaheer Baber

SOC231 Notes for test 2 CHAPTER 10Talcott Parsons was among the first to introduce Webers writings to English readers Parsons implied that Marx and his followers had somehow failed to understand that ideas are important in history Soon it became common opinion that Webers work had been intended as a refutation of Marxian theoretical and methodological principles This view still prevailsAlthough this view is dominant it has not gone unchallengedThis chapter argues that Weber and Marx are compatible and complementary despite political and ideological differences that exist between the two thinkers It is beyond doubt that Weber knew Marxs work quite well and took them into account Weber accepted Marxs notion of historical materialismWeber criticized Marxism for confusing technological with economic conditionsChapter focuses on the methodological and substantive affinities between Marx and Weber Sole objective is to extract the most fruitful analytical elements from both of these extraordinary thinkers and thus to lay firm foundations for a historical sociologyWebers Dialogue with MarxismWeber became a sociologist in the course of a debate with Marxs ghost Webers lifelong intellectual preoccupation was with the origin and nature of modern capitalism and with the question of why it emerged first in the West Marxs aim was to guide the exploration of the manifold and historically changing connections between the economy and other social institutions This was also Webers aim He was not concerned with refuting Marx nor did he see himself as having bested MarxThe economic for Weber as for Marx referred to thematerial struggle for existenceWeber is fighting on two fronts He wishes on the one hand to disprove the idea held by some Marxists that the Reformation was a historically necessary consequence of economic developments But on the other hand he has no intention whatever of maintaining such a foolish and doctrinaire thesis as that the spirit of capitalism could only have arisen as the result of certain effects of the reformation or even that capitalism as an economic system is a creation of the ReformationWeber believed that the Marxian answer was incomplete for there were countries in which all of the enumerated conditions were present but which failed to give birth to capitalist industry Hence the economic explanation is insufficient and one must look outside economics for the supplementary factor Weber begins by drawing attention to certain significant cultural differences between Protestants and Catholics Thus Weber is proposing to round out Marxs method by systematically exploring the role of religion He is not denying or belittlingWeber believed that Calvins doctrine helped the spread of CapitalismFeudalism Webers view and its affinities with that of MarxLike Marx and Engels Weber also viewed feudalism as having emerged from the personal retinues of tribal chiefs So for Weber as for Marx the development of feudal society reflected the growing wealth and power of the retinues Webers analysis of declining feudalism converges strikingly with MarxsThe Asiatic Mode of Production Webers fruitful elaboration of Marxs conceptWeber had a lifelong concern with the question of why rational capitalism emerged first in the West and not in the East This led him to a systematic exploration of the basic structural and cultural differences between the two civilizationsWeber accepts Marxs characterization of the Asiatic mode but expands and rounds out Marxs analysis by investigating religious as well as economic and political institutions To understand the fundamental structural differences between East and West one must pay close attention to economic processes and how they conditioned other developments Weber agrees that the requirements of water regulation and complex irrigation projects are crucial for an understanding of Asian social structure just as he acknowledges that Marx was right in tracing the stationary character of Indian society to the peculiar position of the artisan in the Indian village It is therefore undeniable that Webers analyses of the East largely coincide with Marxs conception of the Asiatic mode of productionAsian ReligionsThe Religion of ChinaHere as in his studies of India and ancient Israel Weber is concerned with the question of why rational capitalism emerged as an indigenous development only in the West He discovered there were fundamental differences between the civilizations of the East and the West In the West two factors were stressed enough that helped cause the rise of capitalism 1 the great influx of precious metals 2 significant growth in population This gave rise to political and economic sanctionsIn the East economic political and formallegal foundations during this time were absent Eventually there was a growth in population and a constant increase in precious metals after the eighteenth century but still no capitalism Weber says that although private property did emerge in the East it never became truly private as in the West Land was not unconditionally or permanently sold rather the sib always retained the right to repurchase Administrative development in China also took a different form from that of the West In China one had to require education on classic literature and pass an exam to be in bureaucracy They were therefore far from being bureaucrats in the Western sense for their ideal above all was to be cultivated Confucian gentlemen Furthermore the Chinese world despite its secular rationalempirical elements remained enchanted a magic garden Religion had a role to play in politics which was no longer seen in the WestDemagification of religion was carried out in the West by ascetic Protestantism but the process had begun with ancient Jewish prophets according to Weber Weber suggests that it was the prevailing religious mentality in China that constituted a major obstacle to the emergence of a rational capitalism of the European type The Religion of IndiaIn India too Weber saw many social and cultural conditions which it would seem should have given rise to modern rational capitalismWeber regards Indian religion as one factor among many which may have prevented capitalistic development For example if Indian religion had taken another form equivalent to that of ascetic Protestantism then perhaps a modern rational type of capitalism might have developed there too Indian religions including Buddhism had attained a highly technical virtuosity that resulted in an extreme devaluation of the world none of them enjoined the adherent to prove himself or his grace through action or work Thus India like China remained an enchanted garden with all sorts of fetishism animistic and magical beliefs and practicesspirits in rivers ponds and mountains highly developed word formulas fingerpointing magic and the like Ancient JudaismFor Weber the development of Judaism was important for the profound impact it had on the beginnings of Western civilization Jewish religious conception of God was one who created the world and intervened in history For the attainment of the future order everything depended on the worldly actions of the Jews and their faithful devotion to the Commandments of God From Judaism spawned Christianity and Islam Prophets often supported certain political regimes or ideals There was a definite relationship between the prophetic movement and other aspects of the social structure and the fact that prophecy acquired a political character in a given historical period can be understood only by viewing it in relation to the general social changes that had come about Although magic was never eliminated from popular practice it was dislodged from its position of dominance in ancient Judaisma fact that contrasts with all other ancient religions The prophets did not stem from the oppressed and disadvantaged strata most of them were wealthy and came from distinguished familiesWeber thus traced the rationalization process in the West to its roots in ancient Judaism His fastidious examination of Asian religions may be viewed as a masterly analysis of what Marx might have called the religiocultural superstructure of the Asiatic mode of production Nothing in Webers analysis contradicts
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