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Are protestants better capitalists ?

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Julien G.
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documents in English
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  1. Introduction
  2. The protestant roots which grounds capitalism theologically
    1. Weber's thesis: The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism
    2. Accumulation (against catholocism)
    3. Election, predestination (against Judaism)
  3. Justifying Weber's thesis
  4. Protestant sects vs capitalist organizations
    1. The origins of the economic superiority of Protestant sects in America
    2. Protestant sects at the heart of modern capitalism
  5. Conclusion

First, we will see that if protestant theology has undoubtedly influenced the early expansion of capitalism in America, it is probably no longer the main factor explaining the important commitment of Protestants to modern capitalism. As an illustration of this fact, we will show that even among fundamentalist Protestants, there is no longer a consensus about the theological justifications of capitalism (I). Today, however, what favours the capitalist skills of Protestants seems to be less theology than the fact that Protestantism is divided in well-organized communities, some of which function as successful profit-making organizations actively participating to the worldwide expansion of capitalism (II)

[...] If we are to understand capitalism as a competitor of the Catholic or other religious world-view, we must inquire into the "capitalistic spirit" as a "mode of life, determined by a spiritual orientation." Weber suggested that capitalism was the product of a new way of thinking which came out from a new social action that had developed from the revolution inaugurated by Protestantism and more precisely by Calvinism. The Calvinist followers yearn to gain salvation by doing good and hard Work in this material World. [...]


[...] Are protestant sects better capitalist organizations? We have just seen that if the protestant ethic may have favored the early expansion of capitalism, the Calvinist doctrine of predestination no longer seems to be at the heart of modern capitalism, though it still exists in some religious communities such as the Amish. To understand the special relationship that links Capitalism to Protestantism today, the focus has to shift to what makes American Protestantism so different, bearing in mind the existence of hundreds of different protestant churches throughout the country, in contrast with the centralization that characterizes other religious groups, such as Catholics. [...]


[...] The current assets of the Latter-Day Saints are estimated over $30 billion. If it were a corporation, its billion in annual gross income would place it midway through the Fortune 500 largest American corporations, before Nike or the Gap. The wealth of protestant sects is the logical consequence of their active involvement in capitalism. Yet it is important to note that protestant sects have always favored a certain type of capitalism, industrial rather than financial. In addition, some religious communities only gradually became capitalists, after having started off as communists. [...]

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