Weber thus reduces explanations of historical trends to the micro level and argues for the significance of ideas in driving humans and humans in driving change.
Weber’s second departure from Hegel, Marx, and more contemporary modernization theorists lies in his pessimism.
In his own introduction that he wrote in 1920, he describes the intention of his major life’s work as one that explicates “the influence of certain religious ideas on the development of an economic spirit, or the of an economic system.” This was never to say that religion triggered the ascension of an economic system, but rather that religion could play a singular role in driving human action.
Puritanism provided a framework for breaking free of traditionalist models, and resulted in a “genesis of a psychological habit which enabled men to meet the requirements of early modern capitalism.” Capitalism was heretofore anathema to traditionalist society because the ), the Reformation unlocked the door to capitalist-style labor.
, Max Weber illustrates a relationship between ideology and economic structure.
Though critics quickly attacked him for espousing a spurious causal mechanism, this was not his intention.
Rather, he argues that Puritan ideology provided a favorable environment for the rise of capitalism.
This essay will explain Weber’s central thesis before placing it in dialogue with Hegelian and Marxist modernization theories.
This is an animadversion rooted in misinterpretation.
Weber took pains to avoid being accused of constructing such a flimsy argument by emphasizing that his essay develops a much more nebulous theory of what Goethe called , or “elective affinity.” He borrowed from Goethe’s chemistry-born theory of human interaction and behavior to cultivate his own sociological theories regarding human motivation and its effect on history.