Against the Weber Thesis

Friday, 01 Sep 2017

Max Weber, a nineteenth-century German sociologist of genius, put forward a theory that still remains influential, particularly among those who are not historians. In a classic work first published in 1904, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,1 he suggested that there was a causal link between these two phenomena, more particularly between Calvinist Protestantism and modern capitalism—thus adroitly standing on its head the contention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that Protestant ideology was the superstructure of change in economy and society. Weber’s work shaped the English Christian socialist R. H. Tawney’...

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