Notes for Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is one of Weber’s most famous books. It is also one of his most controversial. Stark, in the Victory of Capitalism, argues that Weber was simply wrong about the historical process by which capitalism emerges and is embedded in the world. But, for our purposes, he goes on to say, “Even though Weber was wrong, he was correct to suppose that religious ideas played a vital role in the rise of capitalism in Europe.” In discussing Weber, this is the point we wish to emphasize: Beliefs have a critical role to play in the evolution of social order. In this context, Weber is calling Marx’s claims about the natural order into question. Remember, Marx argued that economic relationships give rise to ideology, beliefs, etc. Weber argues in the Protestant Ethic that the reverse is also true. Weber was looking at the same transformation as Marx and Durkheim. In contrast
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