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Book part
Publication date: 2 December 2013

Milan Zafirovski

To reexamine the Weber Thesis pertaining to the relationship between ascetic Protestantism – especially Calvinism – and modern capitalism, as between an economic “spirit”…

Abstract

Purpose

To reexamine the Weber Thesis pertaining to the relationship between ascetic Protestantism – especially Calvinism – and modern capitalism, as between an economic “spirit” and an economic “structure,” in which the first is assumed to be the explanatory factor and the second the dependent variable.

Design/methodology/approach

The chapter provides an attempt to combine theoretical-empirical and comparative-historical approaches to integrate theory with evidence supplied by societal comparisons and historically specific cases.

Findings

The chapter identifies the general sociological core of the Weber Thesis as a classic endeavor in economic sociology (and thus substantive sociological theory) and separates it from its particular historical dimension in the form of an empirical generalization from history. I argue that such a distinction helps to better understand the puzzling double “fate” of the Weber Thesis in social science, its status of a model in economic sociology and substantive sociological theory, on the one hand, and its frequent rejection in history and historical economics, on the other. The sociological core of the Thesis, postulating that religion, ideology, and culture generally deeply impact economy, has proved to be more valid, enduring, and even paradigmatic, as in economic sociology, than its historical component establishing a special causal linkage between Calvinism and other types of ascetic Protestantism and the “spirit” and “structure” of modern capitalism in Western society at a specific point in history.

Research limitations/implications

In addition to the two cases deviating from the Weber Thesis considered here, it is necessary to investigate and identify the validity of the Thesis with regard to concrete historical and empirical instances.

Originality/value

The chapter provides the first effort to systematically analyze and distinguish between the sociological core and the historical components of the Weber Thesis as distinct yet intertwined components.

Details

Social Theories of History and Histories of Social Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-219-6

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 September 2014

Milan Zafirovski

The paper considers whether and how Calvinism as a specific type of religion, ideology, and social system impacts political democracy in modern society. In contrast to the…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper considers whether and how Calvinism as a specific type of religion, ideology, and social system impacts political democracy in modern society. In contrast to the previous sociological and related literature assuming only a positive or negative linear effect, the paper proposes that Calvinism exerts mixed positive-negative and non-linear effects on democracy. The purpose of this paper is to aim at making a contribution to the sociological theory and research on Calvinism and democracy and modern society in general.

Design/methodology/approach

A combination of comparative and historical sociological methodology.

Findings

The main proposition and finding is that whether Calvinism is likely to have a positive or negative impact on democracy is the function of its specific position within social structure and its concrete phase of development. Thus, different positions of Calvinism in social structure are linked to its differential consequences in aggregate for democracy, and various stages of its development to time-variable non-linear effects in sequence.

Originality/value

This is a relatively novel finding innovating and expanding on the literature's assumption that Calvinism has a structurally uniform, either positive or negative, and linear, time-constant effect on democracy.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 34 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 September 1995

Daniel J. O’Neil

Focuses on the thought of representative social scientists whorejected the Marxian class/exploitation thesis and opted for a culturalinterpretation of development…

954

Abstract

Focuses on the thought of representative social scientists who rejected the Marxian class/exploitation thesis and opted for a cultural interpretation of development. Explores the contributions of Max Weber, Horace Plunkett, Edward Banfield and George Foster. Each stressed popular commitment to some rendition of the work ethic as the key to economic “take‐off”. Collectively, the writings of these “cultural” social scientists represent an alternative to the Marxian class/ exploitation thesis.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 22 no. 9/10/11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 1992

John Conway O'Brien

A collection of essays by a social economist seeking to balanceeconomics as a science of means with the values deemed necessary toman′s finding the good life and society…

Abstract

A collection of essays by a social economist seeking to balance economics as a science of means with the values deemed necessary to man′s finding the good life and society enduring as a civilized instrumentality. Looks for authority to great men of the past and to today′s moral philosopher: man is an ethical animal. The 13 essays are: 1. Evolutionary Economics: The End of It All? which challenges the view that Darwinism destroyed belief in a universe of purpose and design; 2. Schmoller′s Political Economy: Its Psychic, Moral and Legal Foundations, which centres on the belief that time‐honoured ethical values prevail in an economy formed by ties of common sentiment, ideas, customs and laws; 3. Adam Smith by Gustav von Schmoller – Schmoller rejects Smith′s natural law and sees him as simply spreading the message of Calvinism; 4. Pierre‐Joseph Proudhon, Socialist – Karl Marx, Communist: A Comparison; 5. Marxism and the Instauration of Man, which raises the question for Marx: is the flowering of the new man in Communist society the ultimate end to the dialectical movement of history?; 6. Ethical Progress and Economic Growth in Western Civilization; 7. Ethical Principles in American Society: An Appraisal; 8. The Ugent Need for a Consensus on Moral Values, which focuses on the real dangers inherent in there being no consensus on moral values; 9. Human Resources and the Good Society – man is not to be treated as an economic resource; man′s moral and material wellbeing is the goal; 10. The Social Economist on the Modern Dilemma: Ethical Dwarfs and Nuclear Giants, which argues that it is imperative to distinguish good from evil and to act accordingly: existentialism, situation ethics and evolutionary ethics savour of nihilism; 11. Ethical Principles: The Economist′s Quandary, which is the difficulty of balancing the claims of disinterested science and of the urge to better the human condition; 12. The Role of Government in the Advancement of Cultural Values, which discusses censorship and the funding of art against the background of the US Helms Amendment; 13. Man at the Crossroads draws earlier themes together; the author makes the case for rejecting determinism and the “operant conditioning” of the Skinner school in favour of the moral progress of autonomous man through adherence to traditional ethical values.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 19 no. 3/4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 1982

“Communism has never concealed the fact that it rejects all absolute concepts of morality. It scoffs at any consideration of “good” and “evil” as indisputable categories…

Abstract

“Communism has never concealed the fact that it rejects all absolute concepts of morality. It scoffs at any consideration of “good” and “evil” as indisputable categories. Communism considers morality to be relative, to be a class matter… It has infected the whole world with the belief in the relativity of good and evil.” Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Warning to the West, 1975.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

Article
Publication date: 24 July 2009

Milan Zafirovski

The purpose of this paper is to reconsider the impact of conservatism on political liberty and liberal democracy in contemporary society. It applies Weber's description of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reconsider the impact of conservatism on political liberty and liberal democracy in contemporary society. It applies Weber's description of capitalism as the “most fateful” social force in modern society to analyzing conservatism in relation to political liberty and liberal democracy. The paper posits and finds that conservatism primarily (with secondary variations) negatively impacts political liberty and so modern liberal democracy. Alternatively, it argues and shows that conservatism almost invariably generates political repression and elimination or subversion of liberal democracy and society. It concludes that conservatism, especially in America, becomes from the “most fateful” to the “most fatal” social force on the account of its adverse impact on political liberty and democracy.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of conservatism and its essentially destructive effects on political liberties and liberal democracy in contemporary society.

Findings

The paper finds that conservatism, especially in America, becomes from the “most fateful” to the “most fatal” social force on the account of its adverse impact on political liberty and democracy.

Originality/value

The paper posits and finds that conservatism primarily (with secondary variations) negatively impacts political liberty and so modern liberal democracy. Alternatively, it argues and shows that conservatism almost invariably generates political repression and elimination or subversion of liberal democracy and society.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Abstract

Details

The Economic Decoding of Religious Dogmas
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-536-8

Article
Publication date: 16 January 2007

Virginia W. Gerde, Michael G. Goldsby and Jon M. Shepard

In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber chronicled how seventeenth‐century religious tenets expounded by John Calvin inadvertently laid the…

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Abstract

Purpose

In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber chronicled how seventeenth‐century religious tenets expounded by John Calvin inadvertently laid the ideological groundwork for the flourishing of eighteenth‐century capitalism. In this early work on the rise of capitalism, Weber examined the changes in attitudes of business and accepted ethical business behavior and the transition of justification from religious tenets and guidance to more secular, yet rational explanations. The purpose of this paper is to contend this transition from religious to secular moral cover for business ethics was aided by the harmony‐of‐interests doctrine, which provided moral, but secular, cover for the pursuit of self‐interest and personal wealth with an implicit, secular rationalization of promoting the public good.

Design/methodology/approach

Although Weber used Benjamin Franklin as an exemplar of the earlier Calvinist Protestantism and spirit of capitalism, advocates a case study of Robert Keayne, a seventeenth‐century Boston Puritan Merchant, as being more appropriate for Weber's thesis. The paper uses passages from Keanye's will to illustrate the seventeenth‐century Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, Franklin's writings to illustrate the eighteenth‐century Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, and various historical prose to demonstrate the legitimation of the harmony‐of‐interests doctrine which allowed for the secular moral cover for the pursuit of capitalism in the following centuries.

Findings

The original (seventeenth‐century) spirit of capitalism identified by Weber is reflected in the rational way in which Keayne conducted his business affairs and in the extent to which his business behavior mirrored Calvinist tenets.

Originality/value

This earlier spirit of capitalism is important in setting the stage for the emergence of the eighteenth‐century spirit of capitalism embodied in Franklin as seen through his writings of acceptable and moral behavior without the use of explicit religious explanations.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 24 September 2010

Stephen Wood

The aim of this paper is to explain why the two most pious Muslim groups in West Africa – the Mourides of Senegal and the Pula Futa of Guinea – are also the most…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explain why the two most pious Muslim groups in West Africa – the Mourides of Senegal and the Pula Futa of Guinea – are also the most economically dominant.

Design/methodology/approach

This question has typically been explained using the ideas of Max Weber, who suggests that the capitalist spirit arose because of the personal characteristics created by Calvinism. This paper looks at a Weberian explanation, adopted to Islam, and also an explanation that is rooted in pure political and economic history.

Findings

It is concluded that the Weberian explanation is germane to the case of the Mourides in Senegal, but does a poor job explaining the economic dominance of the Pula Futa. By contrast, while the economic and political history is important for the economic rise of the Mourides, it seems to account for almost the entire success of the Pula Futa.

Originality/value

These findings are important because they are a reminder of the heterogeneity between both ethnic and religious groups, both in their religious practice and in their economic affairs. The effects of religion, politics, and culture are not uniform for different sects, nations, and ethnic groups. If there is a desire to market to Muslims, develop programs for economic development, or engage in any economic work within Islamic cultures, there is a need to take such heterogeneity into account.

Details

Journal of Islamic Marketing, vol. 1 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-0833

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 September 2020

Ottavio Palombaro

This paper aims to check the presence of such relationship in the field. Certain values are at stake for the success of economic behavior. Since the genesis of modern…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to check the presence of such relationship in the field. Certain values are at stake for the success of economic behavior. Since the genesis of modern capitalism, a set of beliefs proper of Calvinism (mainly Predestination but also Beruf, inner-worldly asceticism, role of Sects […] ) was said by Max Weber to cause an anxiety about salvation and generate a propensity to economic success as a sign of election. The author argues on the contrary that the Calvinist belief in the Perpetual Assurance of Salvation might cause a sense of self-efficacy able to favor economic success. To observe this in action today, it is crucial to consider the evolution that the Protestant ethic went through migrating first in North America and, finally, through the Protestant revival of China. Wenzhou is called “Jerusalem of China” for its large Protestant community that is also strongly involved in business. Some scholar already pointed out the presence among those entrepreneurs of this Protestant ethic (Yi Xiang, Boss-Christian […]).

Design/methodology/approach

The data presented in this comparative qualitative study pertain to ethnographic observations, job-shadowing and interviews done among Chinese Christian and non-Christian entrepreneurs from Wenzhou living in Milan, Italy.

Findings

The results show, with some adjustments, the presence of a Chinese version of the Protestant ethic overlapping with several values proper to the Chinese context (Confucianism, lineage, social network). The extension of the study to other cases must be done with caution considering the non-causal justificatory role of the belief.

Originality/value

Successful entrepreneurship involves specific social, cultural and even religious aspects that move beyond mere business strategies.

Details

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, vol. 13 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2053-4604

Keywords

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