Spirit Of Capitalism

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The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written in 1905 by the German sociologist, economist and politician Max Weber. It is considered as one of the most controversial works of modern social science, and it is a book that provokes critical debates. The book was first published as a two-part article in 1904-05, in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik of which Weber was one of the editors. The book is translated into English by Talcott Parsons, with an introduction by Anthony Giddens. Weber considered himself as a social reformer, who sought to understand how change comes about, and specifically with the transitions to capitalism and modernity. His book is a study of the association between the ethics of ascetic…show more content…
First, Weber uses Benjamin Franklin as a model for the embodiment of the “spirit” of capitalism. Franklin fit the definition of the “spirit” of capitalism for Weber because Franklin fit the generally accepted belief of what economic behaviour should be. Additionally, Weber believed that the connection between Calvinist theology and the spirit of capitalism is found in the pastoral teachings of the pastors. Therefore, he uses Baxter as an example owing to the fact that he was well known in his time as a pastor. Baxter was also known for his impressions on wealth and work; he believed that only work and activity would increase God’s glory. Although Weber could have used more examples to enhance his thesis, I believe that his use of Franklin and Baxter were sufficient to make his claims acceptable. Another point that attracts readers’ attention is his oversimplification of the nature of Calvinism. This is perhaps the most common criticism used against Weber. R.H Tawney, an English economic historian, social critic, believed there were too many variations within the doctrine of various sects stemming from Calvinism to present the dogmatic form of Calvinism as the source of capitalism. I agree with Tawney’s view because his case is too specific in giving credit to only Calvinism, as the source of the “Protestant…show more content…
Weber is redefining capitalism or at the least the essence of capitalism that he saw as the natural evolution of ascetic Protestantism. Weber’s use of the term ‘capitalism’ along with ‘religion’ is somewhat problematic and has created much debate, when applied to the interpretation of the origins of modern western economy. For Weber, capitalism is “identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise. For it must be so: in a wholly capitalistic order of society, an individual capitalistic enterprise which did not take advantage of its opportunities for profitmaking would be doomed to extinction.” (xxxii) I think that Weber narrows the definition of capitalism and presents the capitalistic spirit as a limited concept. Throughout his writings, He judges modern capitalism as rational and anything irrational to be not capitalism. Furthermore, Weber narrows the definition of capitalism by associating it with peaceful free interchange, hence making the acquisition by force not a constituent of capitalism. I do not agree with weber on this point, as it affects only the degree of rationality of capitalistic

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