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How convincing do you find Weber’s analysis of the relationship between Protestantism and the rise of modern capitalism?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Defining the key terms
  3. Weber's thesis
  4. Weber's weaknesses and criticisms
  5. Conclusion

Many sociologists have raised the issue of religion and economic behavior but it is Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, published in 1904 which has had the biggest impact on the history of sociological thought. The imminent German philosopher of the beginning of the 20th century believes that Protestantism and more precisely Calvinism has been a favorable factor in the development of modern capitalism. The prosperity of Holland and England in the 18th century, attended by the economic decline of Spain and Italy suggested that there was some relationship between the reformation and economic progress (Turner, 2000, 151). In a detailed analysis, Weber argues that the different dogmas of the religion are closely linked to the emergence of the unique system of capitalism that emerged in the West. We will therefore question whether the religious variable explains why western capitalism has not developed anywhere outside the western civilization (Aron, 1967,215). In the first part we will clarify the Weberian definitions of the key concepts of the theory, which will then lead us to the analysis of Weber's thesis and finally, we will highlight the limits of his observations by looking both at various academic criticisms and by looking at two capitalist developments: Geneva during Calvin's epoch and contemporary USA.

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