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Working excessively in pursuit of wages could lead to the amassing of wealth, and such a path – prior to the onset of the Reformation – was considered sinful.Whereas Christian doctrine clearly defines riches as abhorrent (i.e., it is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom), and whereas the devout previously engaged in very little labor at all (as in the case of many orders of monks), Puritanism construed wealth as grace and labor as a devotion to God.
This connection lies in the German word , an amalgam of what today we deem one’s vocation or profession or calling.
The word only appears in the Christian liturgy following the Protestant Reformation and proves difficult to translate because the idea itself has since become disaggregated. (p 50).
In his own introduction that he wrote in 1920, he describes the intention of his major life’s work as one that explicates “the influence of certain religious ideas on the development of an economic spirit, or the of an economic system.” This was never to say that religion triggered the ascension of an economic system, but rather that religion could play a singular role in driving human action.
Puritanism provided a framework for breaking free of traditionalist models, and resulted in a “genesis of a psychological habit which enabled men to meet the requirements of early modern capitalism.” Capitalism was heretofore anathema to traditionalist society because the ), the Reformation unlocked the door to capitalist-style labor.
Puritans may have been the only ones that felt obliged to perform -style labor with such intensity centuries ago, but the work-imperative, the calling of productivity has now fallen on the heads of everyone in capitalist society.
At last, Western capitalism has reached the point at which “man exists for the sake of business, instead of the reverse.” A large volume of criticism leveled at Weber’s targeted his supposed causal relationship between the Protestant Reformation and the rise of capitalism.They do this because such behavior provides a visible sign of one’s grace; confidently and constantly fulfilling one’s vocational duty to God marks you as one of the chosen.Though such a positive view of labor seems intuitive today, it is only because we have forgotten about the major mechanism responsible for the connection between work and godliness.Whereas Marxist theory consistently cited material forces, and whereas Hegel pointed to peoples (i.e., the Germans or the French) as the essential blocks in question, Weber pointed to the individual as the major unit in explaining change.His goal as sociologist is to determine the forces that drive human action via , or an emphatic understanding of human behavior.That is, the word and engaging in idleness amounts to shirking the will of God and displays a sure sign of damnation.This separates Puritan society from what Weber terms “traditionalism.” According to Weber, it is human nature to only work as much as is necessary for subsistence.By selling as blessed the concepts of work and wealth as blessed, “ascetic Protestantism” – most specifically Calvinism, Pietism, Methodism, and Baptism – produces an environment amenable to the development of capitalism.According to Weber, this process occurs via the Calvinist concept of predestination, in which heaven is reserved for an elect and predetermined few (), and the rest of humanity is doomed to damnation.Rather, he argues that Puritan ideology provided a favorable environment for the rise of capitalism.This essay will explain Weber’s central thesis before placing it in dialogue with Hegelian and Marxist modernization theories.