Social Welfare : The Protestant Work Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism

995 WordsMay 1, 20174 Pages
In this essay I will analyse the issue of social welfare, referencing Weber’s Protestant Work Ethic and Foucault’s analysis of power structures and the welfare state. The support systems in place to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable members of society are able to survive have been the subject of increasing scrutinisation and hostility as we have entered the 21st Century. This hostility to social welfare can be seen in the intense backlash against the Affordable Care Act in America, and the current ethos permeating Australian culture that it is better to work in demeaning or unsafe conditions that to be an unproductive member of society. I believe that Max Weber’s most acclaimed work ‘The Protestant Work Ethic and The Spirit of…show more content…
In their studies of human behaviour a group of psychologists looked at how Weber’s theories outlined in the Protestant Work Ethic apply to the beliefs of conservative Americans. They discovered that many of the values were intertwined with and followed onto similar beliefs; their experiment found that “hard work yields desirable outcomes and anti-leisure predicted belief in a just world; the dimensions of centrality of work and anti-leisure attitudes predicted social dominance; and the dimensions of morality/ethics, self-reliance, anti-leisure predicted right-wing authoritarianism.” (Christopher et al. 2008) These results are interesting and undoubtedly explain how the values of Protestantism have formed political and economic values in conservative circles. Some of the ideas that arise from this line of thinking are that socio-economic status is due to one’s own merits; that if you work hard enough God will bless you with spiritual and financial success; and, leading on from this, that welfare is not only a crutch for the lazy and incompetent but it actually circumvents god’s will. This type of thinking ignores systematic disadvatages faced by minorities and the poor by saying there is an even playing field in which anyone can succeed if they try hard enough. The values of Protestant Christianity are clearly highly useful for supporting and scaffolding
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