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Nationalism and Modern Economy: Communing with the Spirit of Max Weber

Liah Greenfeld
Max Weber Studies
Vol. 5.2/6.1, Max Weber and the Spirit of Modern Capitalism – 100 Years On (JULY 2005 / JANUARY 2006), pp. 317-343
Published by: Max Weber Studies
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24581970
Page Count: 27
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Nationalism and Modern Economy: Communing with the Spirit of Max Weber
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Abstract

Based on a close reading of Weber's work, the essay offers a mentalist (focused on the mind) reinterpretation of his sociology, sharply distinguished from the academic discipline of sociology as it has been taught and practiced. It then reevaluates the significance of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism as a theory of dramatic social change (a reorientation of a sphere of social action), treating as irrelevant the philosophical framework of materialism vs. idealism in which the work is usually placed and arguing that (a) this significance is not diminished by the refutation of the specific thesis regarding the role of Protestantism in shaping the spirit of capitalism, and (b) that concentration on the relationship between religion and economy blinds the reader to the broader sociological import of Weber's theory. Finally, building on this theory, it offers a new explanation of the emergence of modern economy, replacing Protestantism as the causal factor by nationalism and briefly outlining the psychological mechanisms through which the latter's egalitarianism and inherent competitiveness leads to the orientation to sustained growth.

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