The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German . They included a closer relationship between mathematics and observation, the enhanced value of . David Martin have interpreted the Protestant revolution in Latin America as implicit support of basic elements of Weber's thesis. [. Apr 24, The basic aim of The Protestant Ethic was to explain the connection It doesn't help that Weber's most prominent example of an American. Sep 4, The influence of Protestantism on American capitalism has been a matter of Test[s] the relation between Protestantism and work attitudes using a support for a Protestant work ethic: unemployment hurts Protestants more.
The inability to influence one's own salvation presented a very difficult problem for Calvin's followers. It became an absolute duty to believe that one was chosen for salvation, and to dispel any doubt about that: So, self-confidence took the place of priestly assurance of God's grace. Worldly success became one measure of that self-confidence.
Luther made an early endorsement of Europe's emerging divisions.
Weber identifies the applicability of Luther's conclusions, noting that a "vocation" from God was no longer limited to the clergy or church, but applied to any occupation or trade.
Weber had always detested Lutheranism for the servility it inspired toward the bureaucratic state. When he discussed it in the Protestant Ethic, he used Lutheranism as the chief example of the unio mystica that contrasted sharply with the ascetic posture.
Later he would associate "Luther, the symbolic exponent of bureaucratic despotismwith the ascetic hostility to Eros — an example of Weber's sporadic tendency to link together bureaucratic and ascetic modes of life and to oppose both from mystical and aristocratic perspectives. According to the new Protestant religions, an individual was religiously compelled to follow a secular vocation German: Beruf with as much zeal as possible.
A person living according to this world view was more likely to accumulate money.
The new religions in particular, Calvinism and other more austere Protestant sects effectively forbade wastefully using hard earned money and identified the purchase of luxuries as a sin. Donations to an individual's church or congregation were limited due to the rejection by certain Protestant sects of icons. Finally, donation of money to the poor or to charity was generally frowned on as it was seen as furthering beggary.
This social condition was perceived as laziness, burdening their fellow man, and an affront to God; by not working, one failed to glorify God. The manner in which this paradox was resolved, Weber argued, was the investment of this money, which gave an extreme boost to nascent capitalism.
The Protestant work ethic in Weber's time[ edit ] By the time Weber wrote his essay, he believed that the religious underpinnings of the Protestant ethic had largely gone from society. He cited the writings of Benjamin Franklinwhich emphasized frugality, hard work and thrift, but were mostly free of spiritual content.
Weber also attributed the success of mass production partly to the Protestant ethic. Only after expensive luxuries were disdained could individuals accept the uniform products, such as clothes and furniture, that industrialization offered.
In his remarkably prescient conclusion to the book, Weber lamented that the loss of religious underpinning to capitalism's spirit has led to a kind of involuntary servitude to mechanized industry.
The Puritan wanted to work in calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force.
Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. PageScribner's edition. Weber maintained that while Puritan religious ideas had significantly impacted the development of economic system in Europe and United States, there were other factors in play, as well.
They included a closer relationship between mathematics and observationthe enhanced value of scholarship, rational systematization of government administration, and an increase in entrepreneurship ventures. In the end, the study of Protestant ethic, according to Weber, investigated a part of the detachment from magicthat disenchantment of the world that could be seen as a unique characteristic of Western culture.
Another reason for Weber's decision was that Troeltsch's work already achieved what he desired in that area, which is laying groundwork for comparative analysis of religion and society. Weber moved beyond Protestantism with his research but would continue research into sociology of religion within his later works the study of Judaism and the religions of China and India.
His idea of modern capitalism as growing out of the religious pursuit of wealth meant a change to a rational means of existence, wealth. That is to say, at some point the Calvinist rationale informing the "spirit" of capitalism became unreliant on the underlying religious movement behind it, leaving only rational capitalism.
In essence then, Weber's "Spirit of Capitalism" is effectively and more broadly a Spirit of Rationalization. Reception[ edit ] The essay can also be interpreted as one of Weber's criticisms of Karl Marx and his theories. While Marx's historical materialism held that all human institutions — including religion — were based on economic foundations, many have seen The Protestant Ethic as turning this theory on its head by implying that a religious movement fostered capitalism, not the other way around.
Weber states in the closing of this essay, "it is, of course, not my aim to substitute for a one-sided materialistic an equally one-sided spiritualistic causal interpretation of culture and history. Each is equally possible, but each if it does not serve as the preparation, but as the conclusion of an investigation, accomplishes equally little in the interest of historical truth.
Luther's Conception of the Calling. Task of the Investigation. Puritanism; Methodical Ethic; Idea of Proof. Economic criticism[ edit ] The economist and historian Henryk Grossman criticises Weber's analysis on two fronts, firstly with reference to Marx 's extensive work which showed that the stringent legal measures taken against poverty and vagabondage was a reaction to the massive population shifts caused by the enclosure of the commons in England.
And, secondly, in Grossman's own work showing how this "bloody legislation" against those who had been put off their land was effected across Europe and especially in France. For Grossman this legislation, the outlawing of idleness and the poorhouses they instituted physically forced people from serfdom into wage-labor.
For him, this general fact was not related to Protestantism and so capitalism came largely by force and not by any vocational training regarding an inner-worldliness of Protestantism. In a paper published on 10 NovemberHarvard economist Davide Cantoni tested Weber's Protestant hypothesis using population and economic growth in second-millennium Germany as the data set, with negative results. Using population figures in a dataset comprising cities in the years —, I find no effects of Protestantism on economic growth.
The finding is robust to the inclusion of a variety of controls, and does not appear to depend on data selection or small sample size. They deny that Franklin was preaching a Protestant work ethic and assert that all Franklin was saying was that if a person is interested in being successful in life and commerce, here are some virtues to follow.
Dickson and McLachlan conclude with a clear statement of their criticism of Weber's hypothesis: It seems clear to us that Weber misinterprets Franklin and that the latter was not imbued with the ethos which Weber attributes to him. It is not in dispute that a methodological lifestyle is conducive to the accumulation of wealth.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism - Wikipedia
What is at issue concerning Weber's Protestant Ethic thesis is the impetus for such a lifestyle. Weber's misinterpretation of Franklin does not in itself invalidate his methodol ogy or his Protestant Ethic thesis. Nonetheless, it does suggest a rather cavalier attitude towards evidence, particularly as the writings of Franklin are the only 'evidence' that he presents in his original essays to demonstrate the existence of the 'spirit of capitalism'.
Most of the other criticisms of Weber rest on his assertion that modern capitalism could not have flourished in Europe without an ethic or spirit which had its roots in ascetic Protestantism. These criticisms themselves fall into two major categories: He states that Weber's assertion that the concept of the "calling" was novel to Luther and Protestantism was not established in Weber's writings.
Robertson supports his thesis by quoting Aquinas: Thomas Aquinas' teaching on distributive justice was that: In France the Church went out of its way to welcome the honest bourgeois on the ground that he was the only type of man who followed God's commands and lived in a 'calling'. In his article "Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism," Fanfani disagrees with Weber concerning the role that Protestant ism played in the development of a capitalist spirit in Europe.
In the first paragraph, he states his argument: Our investigations have led us to the conclusion. For at least a century capitalism had been an ever growing collective force.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Criticisms of Weber's Thesis
Not only isolated individuals, but whole social groups, inspired with the new spirit, struggled with a society that was not yet permeated with it. Once we have ruled out that Protestantism could have produced a phenomenon that already existed, it still remains for us to enquire whether capitalism was encouraged or opposed by Protestantism.
Fanfani goes on to argue that it was not the Protestant Ethic which encouraged the growth of capitalism but the fact that many Protestants were forced to leave Catholic countries to escape persecution which "fosters in the emigrants an internationalism that is no small element in capitalist mentality. Fanfani argues that capitalism as we know it today was born in the Italian merchant states under the religious umbrella of Catholicism, but he discounts the effect that religion of any kind had on the growth of capitalism as the major world economic system.
He concludes his article by stating, "The creation of a new mentality in the economic field cannot therefore be considered as the work of Protestantism, or rather of any one religion, but it is a manifestation of that general revolution of thought that characterizes the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation, by which in art, philosophy, morals, and economy, the individual emancipates.
MacKinnon, bases his disagreements with Weber on the idea that Weber misinterpreted what the Calvinists were saying about the concept of the calling and good works. He states early on in his article, There are two fundamental theological flaws in Weber's line of reasoning, flaws that mean that Calvinism did not give a divine stamp of approval to earthly toil: As soteriologically conceived in relation to salvation, works are spiritual activities that call for obedience to the Law.
MacKinnon goes on to explain that Weber's major failure is his misunderstanding of the Calvinist meaning of the calling. Using the Westminster Confession as his primary source, MacKinnon explains what the term "calling" meant to the Calvinists: There is a heavenly calling and an earthly calling or callings, the latter disqualified from making a positive contribution to our deliver ance.
Above all else, the devout must ensure that their mundane callings in no way impede the prosecution of the greatest good of all: Believers are sanctioned to "choose that employment or calling in which you may be most serviceable to God.
Choose not that in which you may be most honorable in the world; but that which you may do most good and best escape sinning. It is a grim twist of irony that Weber would choose such a spiritually worthless vehicle to realize his causal ambitions.
Tawney, Weber's most famous critic, agreed with Weber that capitalism and Protestantism were connected. However, Tawney saw the connection going in the opposite direction from that which Weber postulated. Tawney, in his work, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, states that Protestantism adopted the risk-taking, profit-making ethic of capitalism, not the other way around.
Tawney claims, with some good measure: There was plenty of capitalist spirit in fifteenth century Venice and Florence, or in south Germany and Flanders, for the simple reason that these areas were the greatest commercial and financial centers of the age.
The development of capitalism in Holland and England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were due, not to the fact that they were Protestant powers but to large economic movements, in particular the Discoveries and the results which flowed from them. Protestantism was a revolt against traditionalism and as such advocated rationality as an approach to life and business. Tawney proposed that the rationality inherent in capitalism became a tenet of Protestantism because rationality was diametrically opposed to the traditionalism of Catholicism.
Early Protestant leaders recognized that hard work and rational organization of time were capitalist virtues which fit very nicely into the concept of living one's life in the service of God. Tawney saw the capitalist concepts of division of labor and planned accumulation as being reflected in the dogma of Protestantism which urged its followers to use one's calling on earth for the greater glory of God.
According to Tawney, capitalist precepts and Protestant dogma fit hand in glove. As an historian, Tawney did not see a linear relationship between capitalism and Protestantism. He thought that Weber's thesis a little too simplistic to explain historical events. History tends to be non-linear, and attempts to draw straight casual lines between events are shaky at best.
As Tawney put it, "The Protestant ethic, with its insistence on hard work, thrift, etc. He quotes a letter from John Keats in support of his thesis: Viner points out that until well into the eighteenth century, Scotland was a desperately poor country.
Contemporary commentators often remarked on the lack of economic initiative and ambition and on the general lack of enterprise and economic discipline of the population.
Several of these reporters attributed Scotland's economic backwardness in large part to the deadening effect of Calvinist doctrine as forcibly applied by both Church and State. Viner quotes Henry T. Buckle who, in his treatise Introduction to the History of Civilization in England, wrote concerning the economic teachings of Scottish Calvinists in the seventeenth century as follows: To wish for more than was necessary to keep oneself alive was a sin as well as a folly and was a violation of the subjection we owe to God.
That it was contrary to His desire was moreover evident from the fact that He bestowed wealth liberally upon misers and covetous men; a remarkable circumstance, which, in the opinion of Scotch divines, proved that He was no lover of riches, otherwise He would not give them to such base and sordid persons. To be poor, dirty, and hungry, to pass through life in misery, and to leave it with fear, to be plagued with boils, and sores, and diseases of every kind, to be always sighing and groaning.
The opposition of Scottish Calvinism to capitalism was so well known in Europe that some English commentators such as Roger L'Estrange urged English businessmen to look at the record of the Scottish Presbyterians in interfering with commerce and industry for religious reasons before supporting Cromwell's cause. As a historian, I find the Tawney non-linear argument to be very compelling.