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The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism

            Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, establishes a link between religion, particularly Protestantism, and the development of modern capitalism. Weber also shows how religion and capitalism represent different aspects of his theory of rationalization- the replacement of norms, traditions and values as behavioral motivators in society by rational thoughts.
             In his introductory chapter, Religious Affiliation and Social Stratification, Weber notes how occupational statistics indicate that, in societies with mixed religions, "people who own capital, employers, more highly educated skilled workers, and more highly trained technical or business personnel tend to be overwhelmingly Protestant." (Weber in Calhoun 2012:291) He observed that this phenomena is somewhat explainable by historical circumstances- in the 16th century, "a large number of the richest and most economically developed areas" converted to Protestantism. (Weber in Calhoun 2012:292) Although, historical reasoning does not fully account for the overwhelming representation of those who practice Protestantism among those considered as the haves in society- capitalists- and skilled workers. Weber then brings to light certain attributes of the Catholic faith that may have caused the lack of Catholic representation among the haves. He found that Catholics put emphasis on the study of languages, philosophy and the arts; while Protestants emphasized on engaging with the industry and moving up the career ladder. (Weber in Calhoun 2012:293-294).
             Weber, in his study, also points out that religious belief exhibited a lot of control on their believers' lives. Catholics practiced asceticism, which the Protestants criticized for its castigating otherworldly ways; while Protestants developed a tendency towards economic rationalism, which the Catholics criticized for its materialistic ways. This asceticism that Catholics practiced, Weber inferred, is why they are less involved in the industry- in order to reach the ideal, Catholics practice being indifferent to material gain, focusing on the afterlife.

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