Sewell and Weber's View on Agency
Agency is freedom in the sense that you can be your own person with the capacity to feel, as well as think, about the world and the people in it in a way that makes sense to you. As I sit here trying to comprehend how to start this paper, I feel I have a sense of freedom to use all of Sewell’s and Weber’s thoughts and insights. By taking these ideas into my own hands I have come up with an interpretation of their views of the world that I can apply to everyday life. In this paper I am going to convince you of what I think Sewell and Weber intend for me to understand about agency and the Protestant ethic. In order to argue this, I want to lead you in my direction of how I came to an understanding of how society has developed into what it is today.
I believe that we all have freedom in our minds to do whatever we want in life. I am free to make up my own opinions, which directly influence my daily life. I take into account all outside influences however; I feel I still have say in what I want to do (Sewell pg. 20). Agency gives me the sense to be an individual in this world but there are still times when I require guidance from others. We as a society come together as individuals to work towards understanding one another in many social situations (Sewell pg. 21). Basically, to have any sort of agency we all need structure which in turn gives us a backbone within the walls of being part of society. I believe that structure gives us direction in our daily lives within the set of rules and regulations provided by society. We have a freedom to follow or to not follow these guidelines (Sewell pg. 6).
Just like the Protestant ethic these people felt they had a calling to serve God and had a purpose for life as well. The Protestants lived their lives with complete structure by means of working very hard and in return they felt they were going to be one of the elite chosen by God (PE pg. 110). By working so hard they found that mass wealth had developed causing feelings of shame to grow as a result of these unanticipated consequences (PE pg. 157). The shame came from the sense that through this wealth they were more apt to give in to sin such as flesh and luxury (PE pg. 157). Yet the Protestants were able to mask this shame by saving their wealth for accumulation. This deferred gratification provided calming feelings because they were still working in their calling for God. The result of wealth was justified because their calling was directed to please God since it was his intention to have the Protestants make this wealth (PE pg. 163).
I believe the Protestants felt that they had agency to serve God in a way that made them feel useful to society, which also helped them justify their...