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The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Weber’s most famous work remains one of the most beautifully written and influential works in sociology to date. In The Protestant Ethic and the Sprit of Capitalism, Weber asks: Why is the most advanced form of capitalism found in areas saturated with Protestants? After carefully reading the excerpt, answer the following questions.


1. Weber argues in the beginning of the reading that the economic rationalism found among Protestants is not found among Catholics. What do you think he means by economic rationalism, and what are some of the reasons he gives for why it is not common among Catholics?

2. Weber argues that only a “provisional description” of the spirit of capitalism can be used to begin his study. To which document does he turn to uncover this provisional description, and what about the document exemplifies the “spirit”?

3. Weber concludes the reading by writing: “The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so.” In other words, capitalism has become “disenchanted.” Rather than think of a concrete example of how the modern world has become disenchanted, can you think of an example of something that has its own “calling” still intact?

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