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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

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Book part
Publication date: 4 December 2009

George Steinmetz

Anthropologists have long discussed the ways in which their discipline has been entangled, consciously and unconsciously, with the colonized populations they study. A…

Abstract

Anthropologists have long discussed the ways in which their discipline has been entangled, consciously and unconsciously, with the colonized populations they study. A foundational text in this regard was Michel Leiris' Phantom Africa (L'Afrique fantôme; Leiris, 1934), which described an African ethnographic expedition led by Marcel Griaule as a form of colonial plunder. Leiris criticized anthropologists' focus on the most isolated, rural, and traditional cultures, which could more easily be described as untouched by European influences, and he saw this as a way of disavowing the very existence of colonialism. In 1950, Leiris challenged Europeans' ability even to understand the colonized, writing that “ethnography is closely linked to the colonial fact, whether ethnographers like it or not. In general they work in the colonial or semi-colonial territories dependent on their country of origin, and even if they receive no direct support from the local representatives of their government, they are tolerated by them and more or less identified, by the people they study, as agents of the administration” (Leiris, 1950, p. 358). Similar ideas were discussed by French social scientists throughout the 1950s. Maxime Rodinson argued in the Année sociologique that “colonial conditions make even the most technically sophisticated sociological research singularly unsatisfying, from the standpoint of the desiderata of a scientific sociology” (Rodinson, 1955, p. 373). In a rejoinder to Leiris, Pierre Bourdieu acknowledged in Work and Workers in Algeria (Travail et travailleurs en Algérie) that “no behavior, attitude or ideology can be explained objectively without reference to the existential situation of the colonized as it is determined by the action of economic and social forces characteristic of the colonial system,” but he insisted that the “problems of science” needed to be separated from “the anxieties of conscience” (2003, pp. 13–14). Since Bourdieu had been involved in a study of an incredibly violent redistribution of Algerians by the French colonial army at the height of the anticolonial revolutionary war, he had good reason to be sensitive to Leiris' criticisms (Bourdieu & Sayad, 1964). Rodinson called Bourdieu's critique of Leiris' thesis “excellent’ (1965, p. 360), but Bourdieu later revised his views, noting that the works that had been available to him at the time of his research in Algeria tended “to justify the colonial order” (1990, p. 3). At the 1974 colloquium that gave rise to a book on the connections between anthropology and colonialism, Le mal de voir, Bourdieu called for an analysis of the relatively autonomous field of colonial science (1993a, p. 51). A parallel discussion took place in American anthropology somewhat later, during the 1960s. At the 1965 meetings of the American Anthropological Association, Marshall Sahlins criticized the “enlistment of scholars” in “cold war projects such as Camelot” as “servants of power in a gendarmerie relationship to the Third World.” This constituted a “sycophantic relation to the state unbefitting science or citizenship” (Sahlins, 1967, pp. 72, 76). Sahlins underscored the connections between “scientific functionalism and the natural interest of a leading world power in the status quo” and called attention to the language of contagion and disease in the documents of “Project Camelot,” adding that “waiting on call is the doctor, the US Army, fully prepared for its self-appointed ‘important mission in the positive and constructive aspects of nation-building’” a mission accompanied by “insurgency prophylaxis” (1967, pp. 77–78). At the end of the decade, Current Anthropology published a series of articles on anthropologists’ “social responsibilities,” and Human Organization published a symposium entitled “Decolonizing Applied Social Sciences.” British anthropologists followed suit, as evidenced by Talal Asad's 1973 collection Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. During the 1980s, authors such as Gothsch (1983) began to address the question of German anthropology's involvement in colonialism. The most recent revival of this discussion was in response to the Pentagon's deployment of “embedded anthropologists” in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. The “Network of Concerned Anthropologists” in the AAA asked “researchers to sign an online pledge not to work with the military,” arguing that they “are not all necessarily opposed to other forms of anthropological consulting for the state, or for the military, especially when such cooperation contributes to generally accepted humanitarian objectives … However, work that is covert, work that breaches relations of openness and trust with studied populations, and work that enables the occupation of one country by another violates professional standards” (“Embedded Anthropologists” 2007).3 Other disciplines, notably geography, economics, area studies, and political science, have also started to examine the involvement of their fields with empire.4

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Political Power and Social Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-667-0

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Book part
Publication date: 8 March 2019

John Scott

Abstract

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The Emerald Guide to Max Weber
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-192-6

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Book part
Publication date: 12 February 2013

Manuela Boatcă

Sociological conceptualizations of capitalism, modernity, and economic development as due only to factors endogenous to Western Europe have been prominent targets of…

Abstract

Sociological conceptualizations of capitalism, modernity, and economic development as due only to factors endogenous to Western Europe have been prominent targets of postcolonial criticism. Instead of an over-the-board condemnation of classical sociology as a whole or of the work of one classic in particular, the present article zooms in on Max Weber's theory of ethnicity from a postcolonial perspective in order to pinpoint the absences, blind spots and gestures of exclusion that Weber's classical analysis has bequeathed to the sociology of social inequality more generally and to the sociology of race and ethnicity in particular. Through a reconstruction of Weber's conceptual and political take on race and ethnicity, the article links Weber's general social theory with his particular views on racial and ethnic matters and reveals both as historically and politically situated. To this end, it starts with a brief look at Weber's theory of modernity as an indispensable prerequisite for an analysis of his approach to race and ethnicity and subsequently discusses his chapter on Ethnic Groups, his treatment of the “Polish question” in the 1890s and of the “Negro question” in the United States in the 1890s. Using Weber's canonical treatment of ethnicity as a test case, the article ends by suggesting that postcolonial critique can prove sociological theory more generally as built upon unwarranted overgeneralization from a particular standpoint constructed as universal.

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Postcolonial Sociology
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-603-3

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2002

Tracy L. Scott

Uses qualitative data to explore how contemporary religious beliefs mark conceptions of work, particularly with regards to the beliefs of conservative protestant women…

Abstract

Uses qualitative data to explore how contemporary religious beliefs mark conceptions of work, particularly with regards to the beliefs of conservative protestant women. Compares liberal protestant women and men as well as conservative men against this group. States that conservative women consider motherhood as their most important work yet they are also most likely to feel “called” to their paid work. Cites that this has important implications for the sociological literature on gender and work. Builds on the original work of Max Weber.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 22 no. 1/2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Abstract

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

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Article
Publication date: 2 September 2014

D.P. Doessel and Ruth F. Williams

The purpose of this paper is to provide an exposition of the concepts relevant to measuring the economic effect of premature mortality and the conception of how the social…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an exposition of the concepts relevant to measuring the economic effect of premature mortality and the conception of how the social loss from premature mortality can be incorporated into social welfare measurement. None of the conventional welfare measures currently pick up this welfare signal.

Design/methodology/approach

Various concepts are examined in the conventional and “new” literatures of welfare measurement. Six Venn diagrams show how various concepts “fit together”.

Findings

This paper outlines a framework for measuring the economic effect of premature mortality in a conceptually appropriate way. Thus the paper shows how the welfare loss associated with premature mortality can be incorporated into social welfare measurement.

Research limitations/implications

Accurate premature mortality measurement is difficult but this data problem hardly limits this exercise. Sensitivity analyses can alleviate this measurement problem.

Practical implications

The main practical implication is that empirical applications are feasible. Time series data can be analysed from this conceptual framework to determine whether the problem of the social loss from premature mortality is improving through time, or worsening.

Social implications

Knowing the size of the welfare impact of premature mortality is useful not only on policy fronts concerning premature mortality prevention.

Originality/value

“New welfare measurement” has not yet been applied to the notion of the social loss from premature mortality.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 41 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1981

Michael Lessnoff

The celebrated “Weber thesis” is, in essence, an assertion of causal connections among four terms, namely the “protestant ethic” (PE), the “spirit of capitalism” (SC)…

Abstract

The celebrated “Weber thesis” is, in essence, an assertion of causal connections among four terms, namely the “protestant ethic” (PE), the “spirit of capitalism” (SC), “modern western capitalism” (MWC) and the “industrial revolution” (IR), as follows:

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 1 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1985

Tomas Riha

Nobody concerned with political economy can neglect the history of economic doctrines. Structural changes in the economy and society influence economic thinking and…

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1555

Abstract

Nobody concerned with political economy can neglect the history of economic doctrines. Structural changes in the economy and society influence economic thinking and, conversely, innovative thought structures and attitudes have almost always forced economic institutions and modes of behaviour to adjust. We learn from the history of economic doctrines how a particular theory emerged and whether, and in which environment, it could take root. We can see how a school evolves out of a common methodological perception and similar techniques of analysis, and how it has to establish itself. The interaction between unresolved problems on the one hand, and the search for better solutions or explanations on the other, leads to a change in paradigma and to the formation of new lines of reasoning. As long as the real world is subject to progress and change scientific search for explanation must out of necessity continue.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 12 no. 3/4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2007

Joel A. Ryman and Craig A. Turner

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of conceptions and misconceptions relating to Weberian thought after 100 years of synthesis.

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1101

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of conceptions and misconceptions relating to Weberian thought after 100 years of synthesis.

Design/methodology/approach

Extensions of the theories espoused are discussed and a brief review of several relevant empirical research projects is highlighted. Weberian theory is taken as the basis for the discussion of the paper. Its fundamental assertions are discussed and current discussions elucidated. Modern (post‐1980) research directions and findings are summarized for helping the scholar understand the current state of Weberian research and the potential for future paths.

Findings

There are numerous areas for future theoretical and empirical exploration discussed. Such areas as the effects of the Protestant work ethic on social networks across multi‐cultural (of which religion and religiousity play a role) boundaries and the dynamics of cultural change within, and between cultural dimensions will provide ever‐changing opportunities for at least another century. Inter and intra‐national diversity and its dynamics will also provide munificence in this field of study.

Originality/value

This paper provides scholars a brief review of the status of Weberian research and should evoke new thought related to this theoretical base as well. With the renewal of interest in entrepreneurship and its effects on communities, this area should be a fertile field for researchers, practitioners, and the public in general.

Details

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-6204

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