Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is one of the best-known and most enduring texts of classical sociology, continually inspirational and widely read by both scholars and students. In an insightful interpretation, Jack Barbalet discloses that Weber's work is not simply about the cultural origins of capitalism but an allegory concerning the Germany of his day. Situating The Protestant Ethic in the development of Weber's prior and subsequent writing, Barbalet traces changes in his understanding of key concepts including 'calling' and 'rationality'. In a close analysis of the ethical underpinnings of the capitalist spirit and of the institutional structure of capitalism, Barbalet identifies continuities between Weber and the eighteenth-century founder of economic science, Adam Smith, as well as Weber's contemporary, the American firebrand Thorstein Veblen. Finally, by considering Weber's investigation of Judaism and capitalism, important aspects of his account of Protestantism and capitalism are revealed.
Jack Barbalet is Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Sydney. He is a leading scholar of classical sociology and social theory and his previous publications include Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach (Cambridge, 2001).
Introduction; 1. From the inaugural lecture to the Protestant ethic: political education and German futures; 2. From the Protestant ethic to the vocation lectures: Beruf, rationality and emotion; 3. Passions and profits: the emotional origins of capitalism in seventeenth-century England; 4. Protestant virtues and deferred gratification: Max Weber and Adam Smith on the spirit of capitalism; 5. Ideal type, institutional and evolutionary analyses of the origins of capitalism: Max Weber and Thorstein Veblen; 6. The Jewish question: religious doctrine and sociological method; Conclusion.