GS 201- T3th10:30- 11:20)
October 5 , 2012
What is the 'iron cage'?
The “iron cage” is the cage that society lives in due to limitations placed upon people within societies. Each
person is seemingly free but there are laws and restrictions within the system to allow the system to be
efficient and remain in control. There is a loss of individuality, loss of heart in the machine and loss of
community (when God was removed from the capitalist mentality much of the togetherness people
experienced was lost with it). This “iron cage” method of society works for the masses because individuals are
allowed to feel free from constrains, the Third Face of Power is present; the individual does what the ruling
powers want them to do but they are convinced their actions are because they want to do it for themselves and
not for the ruling power. We give full power over our lives to the state without questioning it because there is
an ideology that they have our best interest at hand and will serve us properly. Weber presented this idea to
allow the masses to be aware of the conditions they were in, he simply observed this phenomenon but did not
present a way of overcoming the “cage”.
What is the „spirit of capitalism‟?
Capitalism is something that is difficult to define, much like an Essentially Contested Concept; each person
has their own understanding of this concept and what they know of the history of capitalism. Capitalism is
considered to have a “spirit” because it is seen as the ghost of what it originated as. Capitalism began as a
religious attempt to fulfill each person‟s personal duty in life and be as successful as possible in this duty.
Calvinists believed that God had predetermined a life or duty for each person and in order to appease God and
assume the life of someone determined to go to Heaven they must be extremely successful within the
community. In opposition to today‟s notions of being successful in your business they didn‟t belief in showing their wealth and therefore were able to save up large sums of