Research Paper on Max Weber and Capitalism
One of the most acclaimed work by Weber in the field of sociology is The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism wherein he directly link the protestant ideas in the rise and development of capitalism. For Weber the teachings of Protestantism have inspired people to pursue capitalism but it is not the ultimate cause of Capitalism. According to Weber, Capitalism was only an unanticipated consequence of the protestant ethic. Protestants did not intentionally create the capitalist system but it is a result that is different with their intentions.
The Spirit of capitalism is a system that has goals of seeking profit rationally and pursuing of profit continuously. In this type of system, there is an idea that it is people’s obligation to continuously increase their wealth. Capitalism has an ethic that values time, money and efficiency. Weber believed that Protestantism particularly that of the Calvinism is essential with the rise of this type of system.
Calvinism has the idea of predestination where people are either predestined to be saved or to be doomed and that only few people will be saved. In order to lessen this uncertainty, the Calvinists developed the idea that there were signs that could be used to indicate whether they are for salvation. One of these signs was economic success, so calvinists try to work very hard in order to achieve this. Calvinist engaged in passionate worldly activities in order to achieve economic success that can be translated as salvation. They also believe that their vocation is their calling from God. Calvinism also requires a standardized style of life that includes business activities. They also adhere to asceticism and delayed gratification where they are willing to forego the pleasures for the promise of much greater rewards in the future including the rewards in the afterlife. This type of ethic as Weber believed could help develop business attitudes that could later on produce growing bourgeoning capitalists.
Calvinism’s ideas could lead for the capitalists to continuously pursue economic interests and justifying it as an ethical duty rather than of self-interest. Calvinism could also approve the inequality in the society by giving the capitalists the idea that unequal distribution of goods in the society is justified because it is caused by the rule of divine providence.