Basic concepts[ edit ] Although not a detailed study of Protestantism but rather an introduction to Weber's later studies of interaction between various religious ideas and economics The Religion of China:
Included here under Fair Use Doctrine for teaching purposes. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Criticisms of Weber's Thesis by Sandra Pierotti Max Weber's theory of the part which Protestantism, specifically Calvinism, played in the development of a spirit of capitalism in western Europe has had a profound effect on the thinking of sociologists and historians since its publication in Many historians value its application of social theory to historical events and praise it for its attempt to explain why capitalism thrived in Europe and subsequently the United States and not as much in other places.
Immanuel Wallerstein, for instance, drew heavily on Weber for explanations of the growth of capitalism into the modern economic world-system in his classic three volume work, The Modern World-System.
The criticisms of Weber's hypothesis have helped keep his ideas at the forefront of social theory. The repercussions have echoed throughout the academic world for almost years and continue today. I cannot begin to cover all of Weber's critics in the course of this paper, but I will present some representative criticisms of the theory.
Weber hypothesized that capitalism was a product of the western mind for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the Protestant Ethic. The Protestant Ethic spawned and encouraged what Weber called the "spirit of capitalism. It is, in fact, the essence which underlies the economic system.
During the long 16th century, this spirit became embodied in European society and provided the impetus for capitalism to emerge as the dominant economic system in the world.
For Weber, capitalism was more than simply an accumulation of wealth. It had in roots in rationality. In fact, Weber insisted that capitalism was the triumph of rationality over tradition. Explicit in his view of capitalism were a disciplined labor force and the regularized investment of capital.
Weber asserted that this combination took place only in Europe and most strongly in Protestant nations, such as England, Holland, and Germany, where there were influential groups of ascetic Protestant sects. Weber was influenced by the writings of Benjamin Franklin, in which he saw early indications of the spirit of capitalism before there was a capitalistic order in the American colonies.
Weber quoted Franklin early in his work and based many of this ideas on Franklin's writings: For six pounds a year you may have the use of one hundred pounds, provided you are a man of known prudence and honesty.
He that spend a groat a day, spends idly above six pounds a year, which is the price for the use of one hundred pounds.
He that wastes idly a groat's worth of his time per day, one day with another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day. He that idly uses five shillings worth of time, loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea.
He that loses five shillings, not only loses that sum, but all the advantages that might be made by turning it in dealing, which by the time that a young man becomes old, will amount of a considerable amount of money.protestant ethic thesis Formulated by Max Weber in a series of essays first published in , hence also known as “the Weber thesis,” the PE argument, although in Gordon Marshall’s words “unambiguous and breathtakingly simple” (), has been one of the most important and controversial topics in the sociology of religion.
The Protestant work ethic, the Calvinist work ethic or the Puritan work ethic is a concept in theology, sociology, economics and history that emphasizes that hard work, discipline and frugality are a result of a person's subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Criticisms of Weber's Thesis by Sandra Pierotti Max Weber's theory of the part which Protestantism, specifically Calvinism, played in the development of a spirit of capitalism in western Europe has had a profound effect on the thinking of sociologists and historians since its publication in Weber hypothesized that capitalism was a product of the western mind for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the Protestant Ethic.
The Protestant Ethic spawned and encouraged what Weber called the "spirit of capitalism." By Weber's definition, this is more than simply capitalist activity.
The Protestant Ethic Thesis worked for the glory of God.
He could examine his worldly conduct for signs ofsalvation (p. ): Thus, however useless good warks might be as a means ofattaining salvatio n they are indispensable as a sign ofelection. They are the technical means, not ofpurchasing salvation, but ofgetting rid ofthe fear ofdamnation.
Protestant ethic, in sociological theory, the value attached to hard work, thrift, and efficiency in one’s worldly calling, which, especially in the Calvinist view, were deemed signs of .