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Calvinism, Capitalism and Confusion: The Weberian Thesis Revisited

Dennis P. Forcese
Sociological Analysis
Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter, 1968), pp. 193-201
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3710048
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3710048
Page Count: 9
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Calvinism, Capitalism and Confusion: The Weberian Thesis Revisited
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Abstract

Max Weber's well-known discussion of the relationship between the "Protestant ethic" and "capitalism" has occasioned a vast amount of discussion, much of it critical. It is our contention that the Weberian thesis has been done an injustice in the course of this dialogue, for with few exceptions the critics do not appear to have argued to the point. Weber's intention was to demonstrate a relationship between Calvinism and a peculiar form of capitalism, not in terms of genesis, but in terms of "feedback". Weber granted that the Protestant ethic which he described differed in form and emphasis from that immediately following the Reformation, and that it had altered in response to a developing capitalism. But Weber sought to demonstrate that this altered ethic in turn influenced capitalism, serving as an impetus to its further development to a stage characterized by what Weber called the "capitalist ethos." He by no means imputed monocausality, nor did he assume that he had at all explained the origins of capitalism. Rather, he focused upon the institutionalization of the capitalist complex, and here the effect of ideology appeared vital.

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