Max Weber’s "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"

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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…show more content…
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. Protestants did not accumulate wealth in order to spend it, as many other groups would have done and had done throughout history. Therefore, Weber states, “If any inner relationship between certain expressions of the old Protestant spirit and modern capitalistic culture is to be found, we must attempt to find it, for better or for worse not in its alleged
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