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May 2, 2018 / C H Thompson

Weber and religion

Weber argues that religion doesn’t act as a conservative force and instead sees religion as a force for social change.

Weber argued that religious ideas, especially protestant beliefs, aided the emergence of capitalism. He argued that many countries, including China and India lacked the necessary beliefs and attitudes for capitalism to emerge.

Weber noticed who capitalism primarily developed in Europe, specifically in parts of European Western societies that held Protestant beliefs known as Calvinism. He believed that Calvinism, which originated in the 17th century, brought capitalist practices and ideas to develop through:

  • Predestination – the belief that God has decided what will happen. Calvinism emphasises the importance of that moral living and the reward for ‘following the rules’ resulted in economic success.
  • Encouraged values such as hard work, self-discipline and the rejection of pleasure and lavish spending; Weber argues led to the build- up of these ideas being adopted resulting in the appearance of Calvinist capitalist class.
  • These values encouraged people to work hard in order to change their fate, which ultimately steered society towards capitalism



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