The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by Max Weber

Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism makes the case that Protestant Christianity contributed to the development of modern capitalism. According to Weber (1864–1920), a pioneering German sociologist, Protestantism did this by generating an ethic—a constellation of attitudes and values—that inspired individual actors to exercise systematic rigor and discipline in their work lives in a way that promoted capitalist activity. This Protestant ethic fostered a kind of mental attitude and everyday practice that led its followers to view idleness and self-indulgence as wasteful, if not sinful, and to find their identity in work itself. This capitalistic spirit, then, took on a life of its own, and now we all must work like this, although we are no longer inspired by religious sentiments ...

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