Weber; religion as a force for change

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Weber argues that the religous beliefs of calvinism helped to bring about major change - the emergance of modern capitalism in northen europe.

  • Modern capitalism is unique because it is based on the systematic, efficent, rationalpursuit of profit for its own sake, rather than for spending on luxuries. Weber calls this the 'spirit of capitalism'

Calvinism has several distinctive beliefs;

  • Predestination God predetermines who will be saved and individuals can do nothing to change this
  • Divine transcendence God is so far above and beyond this world that no human being could possible claim to know his will, leaving the calvinists to feel 'an unprecedented inner loneliness'. this creates what Weber called a 'salvation panic' among calvinists
  • Asceticism Abstinence, self-discipline and self denial
  • The


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