Max Weber’s "The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism"

2391 words - 10 pages

Max Weber’s work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is arguably one of the most important works in all of sociology and social theory, both classical and modern. In the decades since its inception, this work has gone on to influence generations of social scientists with its analysis of the effect of Protestantism on the development of modern industrial capitalism. This work, examining such broad topics as religion, economics, and history, is not only an interesting and insightful look into the history of the development of capitalism, but a major work in laying a foundation for future works of social theory.
Max Weber’s main contention in this work is that what he calls the “Protestant Ethic” played a vital role in fostering the development of industrial capitalism in Europe and the United States. The Protestant Ethic was the idea found in some sects of Protestantism that one had a duty to God to succeed in their life’s work, but were bound to a lifestyle of asceticism that prevented them from spending the wealth they earned on themselves. The wealth that was accumulated through this lifestyle was reinvested into the work process in order to create more wealth. This continual reinvestment of wealth provided the necessary capital and conditions that allowed for the development of modern capitalism.
Weber starts out his essay with a few questions that he proposes to try and answer. He notices that European business leaders are overwhelmingly Protestant instead of Catholic. He also notices that the most developed areas of Europe in his time where ones that had embraced Protestantism (Weber, 4). The question then was, why did areas with economic development and growth respond positively to a revolution in the Church? He notices several differences between Catholics and Protestants that could lead to an explanation. Catholics are more likely to pursue a career in the crafts, and become master craftsmen, whereas Protestants are more likely to seek work in factories, and become skilled workers and administrators (Weber, 6). He says that the differences in the economic outcomes of the two different religious groups can be seen the character of their religious beliefs, not just in the historical and material conditions that they came from. Many claim that Catholics were more focused on other-worldly things, whereas Protestants were more materialistic in their outlook (Weber, 8). But Weber disagrees with this, saying “Hardly anything shows so clearly as this parallel that, with such vague ideas as that of the alleged otherworldliness of Catholicism, and the alleged material joy of living of Protestantism,…nothing can be accomplished for our purpose” (Weber, 9). Protestantism combines an aggressive capitalistic business sense with an extreme sense of piety and asceticism. The Protestant denominations created a distinction between capital acquisition, which could be a good thing, and the spending of wealth, which was considered immoral....

Find Another Essay On Max Weber’s "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"

Max Weber’s and Mircea Eliade’s Disagreement with Durkheim, Marx and Freud

1996 words - 8 pages formalized general categories. The meaning behind the ideal types is that they helped to create a framework, by which cases can be brought into an analysis throughout time. For instance, in refuting Marx, Weber focused on the protestant ethic, which is his study of the protestant religion and its involvement in capitalism. In his study Weber finds Luther had a strong impact on the Reformation of Protestantism through his concept of the calling

The Nature of Man, the Renaissance, and the Protestant Reformation

2996 words - 12 pages Europe was a tumultuous region in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In particular, the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation both introduced radical intellectual and religious ideas that challenged centuries of established doctrine. This period corresponded with a great surge in philosophical, political, and religious writing. Among the most influential thinkers of the time were the Italian humanist Leon Battista Alberti

Fragmentation of the Protestant Church

853 words - 3 pages Fragmentation of the Protestant Church The major divisions of the Protestantism are Baptist, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodist, Lutheranism, Unitarianism, and Quakers ( Even the very first Protestant Reformers were unable to maintain a unity of faith or purpose. The divisions of Protestantism are just an example of the continued fragmentation of the churches. The tendency towards this divineness is a strength to

To what extent does Weber's account of 'the spirit of capitalism' represent a challenge to Marx's view of history?

1077 words - 4 pages : Progress ; London : Lawrence & Wishart, 19713. Social and Political Theory lecture notes4. Brooks, Mick, What is Historical materialism?,, November 20025. Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism, Chapter 2 The Spirit of Capitalism, Copied from The University of Virginia hypertexts

Shinto and Rastafarianism in the Eyes of Max Weber

1726 words - 7 pages , 2000) p 48, 59, 141 Chevannes, Barry. Rastafari: Roots and Ideology (Syracuse University Press 1994) p 217-220 Hicks, David. Ritual and Belief: Readings in the Anthropology of Religion (Second Edition, McGraw Hill Co., 2001) p 511-515 Jacobs, A.J. Max Weber was Right about the Preconditions, Just Wrong about Japan: The Japanese Ethic and its Spirit of Capitalism (The Open Area Studies Journal, 2010) p 1-18 Kessler, Gary E. Studying

Spirit Of The Game

673 words - 3 pages The Spirit of the Game This was one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. It spoke about periods of time throughout the evolving of one of Americas most intense and loved games. The book was split up into two large sections and then divided into chapters inside the sections. The first section was called The Spirit. The first chapter of this section deals with the early stages of development in the game. From the beginning hockey was

The Spirit of Life

3012 words - 12 pages their own limbs off. Destruction defies “real” organisms’ capacity for logic. The emotional component of the spirit of Life The picture begins with Professor Hobby (William Hurt) addressing his team of robot designers and challenging them to create a robot child that is truly capable of loving; a robot that goes beyond sensations and can express, and understand emotions. Professor Hobby’s point is made when he pricks the robot Sheila (Sabrina

Protestant DBQ What are the differences between the catholic and protestant churches during the first years of the break

653 words - 3 pages Francis 1Tara FrancisMrs. BowmanAP European History Period: G2 October 2013Protestant and Catholic DBQAt the eve of the Reformation, the Catholic Church's future was not looking bright. Corruption and money had taken control of the Church and many of its influential leaders. The Protestant Reformation was an attempt to get away from the corruption of the Church, but in essence it is still very similar in beliefs. The Protestants deviated from

Similarites Between the Theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx

1029 words - 4 pages Weber both analyzed similar ideas however, they both had two very different perspective on it. The disparity between the two theorists was not about the idea that division does not exist, but rather how society acknowledged and reacted to the division. Max Weber’s theory is that capitalist system is perceived to be key not only to societal progression but individuals as well, whereas Karl Marx seen the division of labour of the start to all social

Weber’s Inquisitive Ethos Built on the Shoulders of Marxist Capitalist Theory

1732 words - 7 pages goals. These authors criticise capitalism in very similar ways, yet Weber actively works against Marx. Like the naturalised divides set between workers, how may labels and rhetoric of different disciplines affect the ability of academics to question larger, naturalised institutions? Works Cited Marx, Karl & Friedrich Engels. 2008 (1848). The Communist Manifesto. Introduction by David Harvey. London: Pluto Press. ISBN: 978-0745328461 Weber, Max. . The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Routledge.

The Impact of Work Ethic

1019 words - 5 pages at my grandmothers office. Much to his surprise, when he opened the door he found her sitting at her desk working. Relived, he took a chair out of her office and began his journey downstairs. His entrance went unnoticed to my grandmother, whose eyes never left her work during the encounter. When I asked my grandmother about her most important life value, she responded “work ethic, a person's image can be seen by just analyzing their work ethic

Similar Essays

The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism By Max Weber

1285 words - 6 pages Protestant Ethic and the spirit of capitalism, capitalism isn’t about being rich. Weber said that there was a connection between religions. He mentioned that Protestants are more likely to be successful businessmen than Catholics. The reason for this was because he believed that a protestant earns money to accumulate savings, not for luxuries. By implying this, he claimed that modern capitalism arose in Western Europe and it is specific to

Max Weber's "The Prostestant Ethic: Spirit Of Capitalism"

1681 words - 7 pages (Weber, p.16).2. Ben Franklin's writings illustrate the spirit of capitalism through his words mentioned in Weber's Protestant Ethic. It is illustrated through his advice on work and money and how the young tradesman could earn a certain amount of money in a day by his labor and sits back for the second half of the day when he really could be doubling that amount of money. He actually loses the portion of money that could have been made from

Analysis Of Max Weber's Theory Of Capitalism

949 words - 4 pages Analysis of Max Weber's Theory of Capitalism Max Weber’s original theory on the rise of Capitalism in Western Europe has been an often studied theory. In its relationship to Protestantism, specifically Calvinism, Weber’s theory has been in scholarly debate since it’s release in 1904. “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” puts forth not capitalism as an institute, but as the precursor to the historical origins of capitalism

The Protestant And The Merchant Essay

2030 words - 9 pages scripture, and ‘good works.’ As Weber illuminates in The Protestant Ethic “those qualities of ascetic Protestantism, from the doctrine of predestination , to sectarian forms of discipline, had an elective affinity with the spirit of capitalism. The open interpretation of ‘good works’ is the most significant precursor to capitalism. If one was to interpret any occupation that contributed to the greater wealth of society as ‘good works,’ it is