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SOCI 2040
Philip Walsh

Lindsay Wilson November 7 , 2013 Week 7 lecture reading reflection (due 7/11): Weber I 1.) Why is The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism an exemplar of Weber’s ‘social action’ approach. How does this contrast with Durkheim? Weber’s work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism displays Weber’s social action ideals because it discusses how people’s motivation behind their action is changing. This change is what brought about social change; the rise of Capitalism. Weber outlines four different categories of social action, outlining what he believes is the four different reasons that fuel one’s decision in an action they decide to take. Weber first believed people’s actions were purely motivated by religion, to be closer to God, to follow their calling God has set for them. However, due to the rise in Capitalism, this motivation becomes distorted and people have developed an unconscious desire to turn their materialistic earnings once used as a religious bond with God as a never-ending selfish pursuit. What materialistic earnings once saw as something not to be viewed as a selfish luxury for each individual has now become an icon that places an individual as “better” than another, bringing about the idea of the iron cage. This work displays Weber’s belief how religion is linked to reasons of social action, and the motivations behind social action bring about social change. Durkheim, however, believed social change was brought about by social interaction. As well, Durkheim believes religion as “humanities worship of itself” (p.137). Weber saw religion as a major explanation of the motivation behind individuals social action thus the eventual cause of social change; specifically, rise of capitalism. 2.
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