16. Weber on Protestantism and Capitalism

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Foundations of Modern Social Thought (SOCY 151)

Max Weber wrote his best-known work after he recovered from a period of serious mental illness near the turn of the twentieth century. After he recovered, his work transitioned from enthusiastically capitalist and liberal in the tradition of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill to much more skeptical of the down-sides of modernization, more similar to the thinking of Nietzsche and Freud. In his first major work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber argues that the Protestant faith, especially Luther's notion of "calling" and the Calvinist belief in predestination set the stage for the emergence of the capitalist spirit. With his more complex understanding of the causes of capitalism, Weber accounts for the motivations of capitalists and the spirit of capitalism and rationalization in ways that Marx does not.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Similarities and Differences Among Marx, Nietzsche, Freud and Weber
10:22 - Chapter 2. Weber in a Historical Context
26:37 - Chapter 3. "The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism": The Marx-Weber Debate
32:23 - Chapter 4. The Correlation between Capitalism and Protestantism
34:11 - Chapter 5. What is the Spirit of Capitalism?
39:21 - Chapter 6. Luther's Conception of Calling
43:31 - Chapter 7. Religious Foundation of Worldly Asceticism
46:59 - Chapter 8. Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.