Interactionism and Religion

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  • religion deals with the problem of theodicy 
  • by this he means it makes sense of and explains a world full of difficulty, inequalityy and danger
  • this helps to justify social inequality 
  • however, it is not inevitable it will always be a conservative force 
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The protestant work ethic and the spirit of capita

  • Calvinism brought about social change by bringing about modern capitalism 
  • capitaism is the sense of greed and wealth to be able to buy luxury goods
  • modern capitalism is the rational persuit of profit for profits sake 
  • this spirit has elective affinity and unconcious similarity to calvinist beliefs and attitudes

Calvinist Beliefs 

  • predestination, our soul is damned or saved from the start meaning we can not change our place in society 
  • divine transcendence, no human beings know the will of God and so a salvation panic can occur
  • Ascesticism, abstience, self discipline and denial will lead to a life in heaven after death
  • vocation, this worldly gains are achieved through constant methodical work, we must accumulate wealth rationally 
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Criticisms of Weber

  • some countries with large Calvinist populations never developed capitalism 
  • slavery, colonialism and piracy were probably more influential 
  • capitalism predates calvinism 
  • Capitalists were drawn to Calvinism as it legitimates their interests 


  • Weber does not discount the impotance of the economoy and material factors
  • admits capitalism was only possible due to technology 
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