Tag Archives: Protestant ethic

Austerity and Asceticism, Unveiled Monsters, Blog 2

Through Weber’s ideal types, some might wonder why people have affective actions of romanizing hard labour or their calling, and why people use value-rational action to value a calling or a set of verses that may be used to turn their very bodies as cogs in a machine? Why must people undergo instrumental-rational action to attain payments through highly bureaucratic, yet Protestant ways…couldn’t there be other ways of gaining monies? Why do people follow traditional actions that revolve around religion or the dogma of religion that may be purposeful to manipulate people into giving away their gains. These concepts or ideal types are used for analysis, the answer to these questions revolve around the Protestant Ethic or what some people today may perceive as Austerity. In the video, the host talked about people never thinking of working for a greedy minority, but when the doctrine if austerity was used and preached, they would change their mind and give up some of their assets to appease the greedy. Weber used Verstehe, he would be able to dissect that such modern austerity and the Protestant Ethic were mechanisms for control and he would also note that if if a doctor of Austerity  said, “this would hurt”, it would affect the lives of people and their saving tremendously. In the video, “The Meaning of “Austerity”, one can recognize that the preachers tried to persuade countries that they should be austere, or basically happy with the little pleasure they have. The IMF reformers used this concept of austerity to get people to be comfortable with what they have, then use the public monies for personal debt solutions, this is all to similar to Weber’s writing, “From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904).” In this writing Weber’s states, “One of the fundamental elements of the spirit of modern capitalism, and not only of that but of all modern culture: rational conduct on the basis of the idea of the calling, was born – that is what this discussion has sought to demonstrate – from the spirit of Christian asceticism.”(From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904),Weber) In this quote, Weber explains how people are swayed to rationally work. These people were still swayed irrationally by religion as if to be a cog in machine was one’s calling, not some rational mechanism for the nobility to gain riches. The IMF is not different from these clergymen of austerity, they’ve even went so far to change the constitution of a Brazil to push their money grabbing agenda. On the other hand, the Puritan elite used the bible to maintain their capitalistic greed. The use of sacred doctrines to get people to be swayed by Protestant ethnic was cunning, and it allows for more manipulation. This is probably why Weber thought of religion as an evil entity, he knew that people found religion sacred and thus could be manipulated by it. In the video the host even mentioned the oligarchy of austerity using their manipulation to “earn” so much cash, that the only way for the austere people to survive was to have an illegal cocoa business. This is very similarly to the spirit of old Calvinism, for the religion was used in a way to allow people to make some money via their calling, but not enough that they would become “wickedly” wealthy. They were to stay poor for the capitalistic interests of their superiors or tricksters. This would allow a surplus value for their superiors and keep them as cogs in a machine only  to be used for an  an increase in monies. Similarly the IMF, explains government austerity measures by using the amounts of public monies to pay off the country’s debt or theirs, at the same time this very IMF doesn’t t mind manipulating the illegal and surplus valued business of the austere to fill their bank accounts. In the modern or old eras, the cash amounts are still in the favor of the greedy, and the people remain as brainwashed “cogs”. Lastly, the host explains the lock step trend of the government to ask for austerity from the people after instances of debt, there is also a lock step of asceticism in the Puritan age from the Protestant Reformation. The  very business that Martin Luther tried to dismantle failed. What was once a business of getting saved by giving away your monies to the Catholic Church, prior to Reformation, became adhering to your calling in the Puritan age. This allowed the wicked of Capitalism to spread as people became coaxed into callings made for them to work well and fail in terms of wealth…..all for their superiors.

Source, youtube video, “The Meaning of “Austerity”

From the Protestant Ethic to the ‘Creditocracy’?

Credit cards

Weber described the “Protestant ethic” as the view that it is a person’s duty to work hard and save.  By accumulating wealth, yet refraining from spending it, one would be “saved.”  As Weber noted, these religiously sanctioned beliefs and practices helped lay the foundation for capitalism in Northern Europe in the 16th century.  Five hundred years later, most US households are in debt.  No doubt Americans work hard — when they are fortunate enough to be employed — yet most are unable to save.   This has less to do with lax morality than with stagnating wages and the spiraling costs of basic goods such as housing, healthcare, and education.

According to Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU, we now live in a “creditocracy,” where debts are not supposed to be paid off entirely.  Ross writes in the Guardian:

Wage conflict was the great strife of the industrial era, but the struggle over debt is shaping up to be the frontline conflict of the years to come. Not because wage conflict is over (it never will be) but because debts, for most people, are the wages of the future, to which creditors lay claim far in advance. Each new surrender of a part of our lives to private debt-financing further consumes the fruit of labor we have not yet performed, in the form of compensation we have not yet earned. That is why, to put it bluntly, many household debts are a thinly disguised form of wage theft.

In stark contrast to the Protestant ethic, Ross suggests that “it may be more moral to refuse some of our obligations to creditors than honor them all. The alternative is a failed democracy.”  What do you think?  Do our changed social conditions call for a rethinking of conventional standards of morality?

The ‘Protestant Ethic’ & the Spirit of Valentine’s Day

In anticipation of our reading of Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, I present a sampling of some “Puritan Valentine’s Day Cards.”  Puritans, who believed that the English Reformation did not go far enough in “purifying” Christian morality, are the heroes of Weber’s narrative.  Their ethic of industriousness and renunciation of worldly pleasures is credited with promoting the growth and spread of capitalism — Weber argues that there was an “elective affinity” between them, the religious doctrine and economic practice.  But these traditional religious ideals and the ways of contemporary capitalism could not be farther apart, as these satirical cards reveal.


Here’s a teaser from Weber’s conclusion, probably the most quoted passage from the book :

“The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into evervday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the “saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment.” But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage.”

Blog#6: House of Sand and Fog

The film “House of sand and fog” that we viewed in class had so much to do with what Durkeim and Weber’s key concepts were outlining so many centuries ago. When it comes to Durkeim, anomie is very apparent in the film. Anomie stresses the lack of moral regulation. Colonnel Behrani was abusive towards his wife. This made her have great anomie and she was petrified of him. Also, Behrani grabbed Kathy by the arm with great force and left a mark. He clearly lacks moral regulation.

Egoism is also present here or the lack of integration into a social group. Kathy hears her brother’s wife is pregnant and they are starting a family. Kathy feels as if her life isn’t up to speed and her husband left her so she doesn’t know where she fits within society. Also the Behrani’s aren’t sure if they are going to be deported back to Iran or not based on Officer Lester Burton’s threats. Sacred and profane issues are also present. The home is sacred to both Behrani and Kathy. The Behrani’s don’t want blood drippings or dirt in their home and Kathy doesn’t like people smoking in the home. The home connects these two different persons and it becomes their identity in a way.

Profane issues are present because they are following a routine of working and providing for themselves (the protestant ethic). Authority is also present which is Weber’s concept. The officer exercized his authority by threatening the Behrani family with deportation due to the housing situation. Class and status issues are also present. Col. Behrani is used to being of higher standing in Iran. He’s used to people adhering to his agenda. Kathy isn’t used to not having a home because she inherited this house. Both people are exemplary of Durkeim’s and Weber’s key concepts.

Blog # 4- Our lives are predestined.. yes or no? Protestants view towards economics and life

Not all societies are equal… each society develops and progresses differently, that’s why at times there are wars that break out, conflict that are unresolved and deaths to show how determined we are. Although societies are not formed through the use of the same manual, it can be determined that each society [large or small] have been   shaped through our norms, beliefs and ideologies. It is our family, peers, environment, religion and education that has molded us into the people who we are and what we considered to be right and wrong. Max Weber is known to be one of the most prestigious sociologists in modern history and he provided us, his readers, and an astonishing outlook on the development of modern society. His two major components that can be taken away from his study is that 1.) The main dynamic of modern development is the rationalization of social and economic life. 2.) He focused on why modern western societies developed so differently from other societies, and finally he emphasizes the importance of cultural ideas and values on social changes. According to Weber, non-economic factors have played the key role in modern social development. He is clearly referring to the norms that were embedded to us as children such as religion and our views of the world. In his famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Weber depict that religious values mostly associated to Puritanism or Calvinism were the key components in creating a capitalistic outlook. In addition¸ he argued that the most important difference among societies is not how people produce things but how people think of the world.

Protestants and Calvinist believed that our life is already predestined, and when judgment day comes we will either be saved or begging for mercy. This idea is the central concept that affected the view of Protestants and Calvinists allowing them to dignify even the dullest professions as adding to the common good and consequently blessed by God. In order for them to be saved they must live a life of servitude to prove to god that they are worthy of saving. The protestantethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their owncapital and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth and capital  for investment.  Furthermore, Weber shows that certain branches of Protestantism had supported worldly activities dedicated to economic gain, seeing them as endowed with moral and spiritual significance. The protestants would work and gain capital to demonstrate that they are working hard eliminating the idea of being lazy and to show they are the real deal to be saved by god. Weber’s view is brilliant in the sense that economic factors are important, but ideas and values have just as much effect on social change. I personally believe that social change is based on something more than just economics, even though economics are important there is just something almighty that keeps us pushing forward.