Weber Capitalism Religion And Social Control Essay

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Weber, Capitalism, Religion And Social Control Essay, Research Paper The analysis of the relationship between religion and social change can usually be seen as a debate between those who believe that religion can be change promoting, such as Weber, and those who believe religion to be change inhibiting, such as Marx and Durkheim. Marx’s view fro example, would be that religion would inhibit social change at it legitimises and justifies the status quo, whereas this is usually contrasted with Weber, who suggests that religion can cause social change, in that it helped in the development of capitalism. 1905 saw the publication of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, which was possibly the most influential of Weber’s works, and also one of the most important

theories on religion and its effect on the wider economic structure. Weber was interested in the rise of capitalism in Western Europe, and also the ideas and beliefs that were influential in bringing about this development in economic behaviour. Weber believed that the religious beliefs of Calvinism led to the development of capitalism, and thus Weber believes that there is a convergence of attitudes and beliefs between the religious behaviour of Calvinism, and the concepts of capitalism. He believed that this relationship could only be found in Western Europe, and although Weber thought it would be far too simplistic to claim that Calvinism caused capitalism, he did believe that there was a strong correlation between the ideas and beliefs of calvinism and the behaviours

necessary to be successful as a capitalist. Calvinism, claimed weber, rather than creating capitalism, produced a climate in which capitalism could develop, given that a number of other variables were present. When Weber discussed the concept of the Protestant Ethic he was referring to the way of life selected by calvinists, which included rules and directions on behaviour, and also outlined certain obligations and duties for the individual. He identified these principles of good conduct as follows: an individual must have a well defined career or calling in life, and this career must be pursued in a determined, single-minded fashion as they believed that God has commanded the individual to work for his glory, and success in one’s calling means that the individual has not lost

God’s favour. Making money was though to be concrete evidence of success in on’s calling. The calvinists, according to Weber, disapproved of all acts of time-wasting, laziness, idle gossip, more sleep than was necessary, sexual pleasure, sport and recreation for pleasure, and anything which may distract the individual from their calling, including public houses and dance halls. The emphasis of this religion was on self-discipline and abstinence. These beliefs stem from a number of pre-conditions, both normative and institutional. Normative pre-conditions include a doctrine of pre-destination, which means the belief that God determined the fate of the individual before birth, and the behaviour of the individual cannot affect what occurs after death. However, by acting in the

ways previously outlined, the calvinists were, according to Weber, looking for signs of election. Weber meant by this that each individual suffered from anxiety of salvation and in following the calvinist directives for good behaviour they are seeking proof that they are the chosen ones. They believed that a systematic approach to work led not only to good results but also to signs of election. It also helped to legitimise inequality as Calvinists were duty bound to fulfil their obligations according to their station in life and make the most of every opportunity. This meant that even those who were being exploited in low-paid jobs accepted their position, as the growth of calvinism caused them to adopt the belief that hard work was a good thing and was to be undertaken by choice