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The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Paperback – Apr 4 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (April 4 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048642703X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486427034
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #127,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Alcat on Jan. 18 2007
Format: Paperback
The main point in Weber's *The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism* is that the Protestant ethic helped to shape values favorable to the birth of capitalism. Despite that, the author isn't a cultural determinist because he takes care to point out that values help to shape an outcome, but don't produce it for certain.

This book is quite interesting, and includes lots of interesting observations regarding Weber's main premise, despite not being overly long. For instance, the author says that due to the fact that Protestant ethic viewed hard work as a duty and looked down on excesive luxuries, Protestants were indirectly encouraged to save almost all the money they earnt, thus increasing the funds available for the capitalist process. Of course, there are many more examples that contribute to give weight to Weber's argument, but to know more you will need to read *The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism* ...

Weber analyses some data at his disposal, and that makes some chapters slightly less engaging. Notwithstanding that, this book is likely to be worth your time and your money. To start with, you will learn quite a few interesting facts you probably were unaware of before. Secondly, and in a more frivolous vein, you will finally know what everybody is talking about when they mention directly or indirectly this book from time to time :)

All in all, I recommend this book to those interested in Sociology or Cultural Studies, but also to curious people who want to know more about the influence of culture in different processes. Enjoy it !

Belen Alcat
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Don't buy the Dover edition of this book. Oct. 26 2006
By Amelia Ann Favere - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Dover edition of the book has been bound so tightly that it's difficult to turn the pages--and to read the words, which are nearly swallowed up by the binding. It feels like if you force it at all, the whole binding will come unglued.

It may be cheap, but it *feels* so extremely cheap that it's just not worth the money saved. Buy yourself another edition--or for that matter, just get the text free online. Anything's better than trying to read this edition.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great theory, but not always an easy read July 30 2007
By Will Jerom - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Max Weber's thesis that the Protestant work-ethic helped give rise to the spirit of modern capitalism is well known, but how true is it? Weber goes into an impressive review of historical details on how Luther's concept of the calling became the Calvinist concept of labor to glorify God, and finally the Puritan concept that is applied to business as well as anything else. In short, the Protestant hard-work ethic, intended to be a sign of election and to glorify god, inadvertently (at least in part) gave birth to the spirit of capitalism, of sustained, planned, methodical profit-making. Though capitalism is no longer dependent upon religion for maintaining its ethos (we are all caught in the rat race), it is fascinating how Weber makes a compelling case that a once anti-materialist Protestant Christianity came to affirm the capitalist spirit by way of a hard-working ethic. Many of Weber's themes are persuasive, if also controversial. Weber has by no means isolated the final or full cause of the take-off of capitalism in modern times, but he has made a good case for one contributing factor. Would that his style of writing had been a bit more direct - Weber's insights are at least worth careful reading.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Anatomy of the Beast March 26 2008
By Kallionsivu Mikko - Published on
Format: Paperback
A decisive intellectual victory over the numbing utilitarianism of the day -- as important now as it was a hundred years ago. In his masterpiece, Max Weber traces the development of the worldly Protestant ascetic spirit from its predecessor (medieval otherworldly asceticism) to its modern religious peak (Puritan social ethics) and beyond, to the current utilitarian economic thought (with no religious elements whatsoever).

Weber also reveals the development of the spirit of capitalism as a tautologous paradigm of thought that has a long time ago abandoned its original religious motives, leaving behind only a system -- a ghost of a ghost -- that everyone must reproduce in order to survive. This is the "iron cage of [capitalistic] modernity" which we inhabit, and as Weber says, it will not be gone before "the last load of coal has been burned"... A chilling remark in retrospect, as we have now found out that the ever-growing global economy -- a growth for the sake of growth in both communist countries (especially China) and Western democracies -- is cooking up the Globe.

I suggest you waste your money on this.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great argument, poor translation that needs freshening June 26 2008
By rudiger - Published on
Format: Paperback
While I cannot claim to be able to read this classic work in the original German, I share many of the other reviewers' frustrations with regard to Talcott Parson's English translation of it. First is all the passages from other authors which are left in the original French, Latin etc. and which the average anglophone reader today will be hard-pressed to decipher. Second is the shortage of explanatory notes pertaining to the various minutiae upon which Weber dwells. Contemporary readers can't be expected to know anything about Pietism, for example, so a few footnotes would have been helpful. Finally, there's the dated quality of Parsons' language which seems more redolent of the 19th century than the mid-20th. Every time he uses the word "to-day" complete with its archaic hyphen, it's hard not to be reminded of how musty this translation is and how the far the "to-day" he's writing about is removed from the "today" we live in.

For all the above reasons I would be reluctant to assign this book to an undergraduate class. Surely there's someone out there willing to take a shot at a new, fresher rendering of this book for the 21st century and fix some of the shortcomings of this rather flawed translation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Don't Buy This Edition!! Oct. 28 2013
By Josh Erb - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This edition is cheaply made! There are typos and incomprehensible sentences every other page. It's cheap but not worth it.