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Major Argument In The Protestant Ethic Sociology Essay

Marx Weber in his writing entitled “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, presents the argument that religion had a critical influence modern capitalist economy and society. He believes that Puritan ethics and ideas influenced the development of capitalism. He supports his argument by examining the relationship between the ethnics of ascetic Protestantism and the beginnings of modern capitalism. Weber discovers the problem of linking religion to the spirit of capitalism. Weber compares the differences between Catholics and Protestants. Protestants presumed to have more focus on developing economic rationalism compare to Catholics. One explanation Weber supports his idea that Catholics tend to be more “otherworldly” than Protestants which lead not too much focus on material gains. Weber mentions “Catholics show a stronger propensity to remain in their crafts that is they more often become master craftsmen, whereas the Protestants are attracted to a larger extent into the factories in order to fill the upper ranks of skilled labour and administrative position” (Weber, 1905: 3). Even though Catholic gets involved in economic activities, Catholic criticizes Protestant’s materialism.“Catholics answer with the accusation that materialism results from the secularization of all ideals through Protestantism” (Weber, 1905:14). Throughout, his observation, he focuses his argument on the Protestants.

Weber also mentions four principal forms of ascetic Protestantism which are Calvinism, Pietism, Methodism, and Baptist movement. According to Weber, Calvinism supports majority of his argument but he also explains values of other sects. Weber assumes that Calvinism influences in Western Europe in the seventeenth century. He notices that Western Europe had followed Calvinist Protestantism. Calvinists saw their work as a “calling” from God and it was a moral duty. “God does not exist for men, but men for the sake of God. All creation, including of course the fact, as it undoubtedly was for Calvin, that only a small proportion of men are chose for eternal grace, can have any meaning only as means to the glory and majesty of God”( Weber, 1905:33). They believed in the elect. They are chosen and predestined by God. However, Lutheran Protestantism was different. It believed that people could earn a place in Heaven through good works on earth. It seems capitalist ideology, but Lutheran Protestantism encouraged people to earn no more than they needed to survive. The problem with Calvinist Protestantism was that they did not know they would go to hell or heaven. Weber mentions “on the one hand it is held to be an absolute duty to consider oneself chosen, and to combat all doubts are temptations of the devil” (Weber, 1905:37). Their uncertainty led them to work hard and that was for God’s favor. So their hard work led to the development of capitalism. They denied comfort and pleasure to themselves and despised laziness. Weber emphasizes that the spirit of capitalism is the values and attitudes behind making money. Weber concludes that religion could cause economic change. Pietism is connected with Calvinism and gets influences by Lutheran Protestantism. Lastly, Weber wants to figure out the relationships between ascetic Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism. Overall, Weber’s intent was to prove the positive correlation between capitalist spirit and Protestant religion.

B. Choose one article from the list and summarize the article’ basic argument and what data it uses.

In the article, “Ethnic Differences in Endorsement of the Protestant Work Ethic: The Role of Ethnic Identity and Perceptions of Social Class” by Kevin Cokley, Komarraju, Pickett, Shen, Patel, Belur, and Rosales, examined ethnic differences in endorsement of the Protestant work ethic (PWE) among Black and White college students and differences in ethnic identity and perceptions of social class mediated the relationship between ethnicity and the endorsement of PWE values.

They found that the PWE is related to personal obligation. They found that the PWE is now more a reflection of culture than of religious values or nationality. Authors examined multi cultural differences in the PWE within the United States and their goal was to find which ethnicity might affect endorsement of the PWE.

According to Cokley et al, They found that well- educated individuals are less likely to endorse PWE values due to the fact that well- educated individuals are more likely to be aware of systems of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. In addition, the PWE is also related to social class. They figure out “Blacks face more negative perceptions about their work ethic from employers than do Whites and that employer see inner-city poor Blacks as especially problematic” (Cokley et al, 2007:79).

Authors used three measures which are Protestant Ethic Scale (PES), Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (NEIM), and Demographic sheet. After they examined, they found that Black students the PWE was not significantly related with ethnic identity. Blacks were higher in ethnic identity than were Whites, but the relationship between ethnic identity and PWE was not significant. However, they found that ethnic identity and perceptions of social class can count for ethnic differences in endorsement of the PWE. Black students had a significantly lower PWE compared with White students. This indicates that they were less likely to believe that works hard will succeed. On the other hand, whites are opposite. They tend to believe a strong positive relationship between working hard and achieving success. It indicates that White students were more likely to endorse PWE beliefs than were Black students.

They mention “the most significant result of this study was the emergence of perceptions of social class as the only significant mediator” (Cokley et al, 2007: 85). It shows that upper middle class and upper class had a significantly stronger PWE than working class or middle class among Whites, but not Blacks. They argue that social class in an important because they believe that social class might influence the cultural psychology of different ethnic groups. They mention “the Blacks in the present study, regardless of perceived social class, were less likely to endorse the PWE, perhaps because they may have experienced first hand that the application of the PWE does not always result in meritocratic economic outcomes” (Cokley et al, 2007: 87).

C. Evaluation of the Weber Thesis.

Max Weber’s theory which Protestantism developed sprit of capitalism in Western Europe and Protestant Ethic inspired what Weber called the “spirit of capitalism”. After he studied different religion, He saw the greatest economic growth in Europe compared to other countries. He believed that Protestant religion influenced on economic growth. Weber asserts “ it is fact that the Protestants both as ruling classes and as ruled, both as majority and as minority, have shown a special tendency to develop economic rationalism which cannot be observed to the same extend among Catholics either in the one situation or in the other”( Weber, 1905:4). However, Karl Marx did not think that religion changed economic. Marx believed that individualism linked to economic growth. There are many criticisms about Weber’s theories. Weber’ Protestantism Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism have reasonable and logical criticisms. Obviously, his theories in Europe during the sixteenth century led to the growth and dominance of capitalism. I do not believe that religion is strongly associated with the economic growth; however, economic growth is related to religious beliefs. And religious practices and beliefs lead important consequences for economic development.

2. A. Basic elements of bureaucracy that Weber describes.

In the article, “Bureaucracy”, Marx Weber believes that bureaucracy is a particular type of administrative structure developed through authority. Weber attributes the development of bureaucracy to the increase in rationalization in modern societies. Weber says “Bureaucracy, thus understood, is fully developed in political and ecclesiastical communities only in the modern state, and, in the private economy, only in the most advanced institutions of capitalism” (Weber, 1946:196). Weber argues that bureaucracies have existed in places such as Egypt, the Roman Catholic Church, and China. Weber mentions “a certain measure of a developed money economy is the normal precondition for the unchanged and continued existence, if not for the establishment, of pure bureaucratic administrations” (Weber, 1946:205).

Bureaucracy is organized as a hierarchical system of offices that are governed by rules. According to Weber, there are ways of developing bureaucracies rational which are functional specialization, hierarchical authority, expert training of managers, and decision making based on rules. Weber argues that such specialization is necessary to a rational bureaucracy. His idea is that employees or people within an organization are classified depending on specialties. They have special responsibilities, tasks based on their level, title and the lines of authority within the organization. He also argues that managers have to be trained for their specific jobs. He mentions “the demand for administration by trained experts is considerable, and the party followings have to recognize an intellectually developed, educated, and freely moving ‘ public opinion’, the use of unqualified officials falls back upon the party in power at the next election”(Weber, 1946:201). Weber mentions the importance of education which can develop economic. Lastly, Weber insists that rules and principles play an important role in rational bureaucracies in making decisions. “the management of the office follows general rules, which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive, and which can be learned” (Weber, 1946:198). Weber sees bureaucracy as one of the most important causes of the development of capitalism.

B. The strengths and dangers of bureaucracy that Weber describes and quotations from The Cunning of History.

According to Max Weber, bureaucracy are the most efficient form of administration and inevitable in the modern society. In the book, “The Cunning of History” by Richard L. Rubenstein mentions “the large corporation as a type of bureaucratic organization that rivaled the state bureaucracy in achieving rational efficiency and calculated results” (Rubenstein, 1978:55).

One of the strengths of bureaucracy is that it can govern every member’s special duties under the regulations and strict rules. He mentions “Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of the files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict, subordination, reduction of friction and of material and personal costs, these are raised to the optimum points in the strictly bureaucratic administration” (Weber, 1946: 214). Also, Weber says that the organizations structuring into a vertical hierarchy to be governed by the rights to supervision and appeal. The military is an example of bureaucratic organization. Weber says “Specifically, military discipline and technical training can be normally and fully developed, at least to its modern high level, only in the bureaucratic army” (Weber, 1946:222). Rubenstein also mentions “the Nazis understood the bureaucratic mechanism they controlled. It was soon recognized that improperly organized attacks by individuals or small groups actually hindered the process leading to administrative massacre” (Rubenstein, 1978:23). It indicates that military forces are run as model bureaucracies and that are effective.

Weber saw many advantages in bureaucracies, but he also saw the weakness of bureaucracies. Weber argues the consequences of bureaucracies in modern societies. He concerned that the level of authority and power move only to those at the top and resulted in an oligarchy. Bureaucracy provides structure of domination. Weber fears that people would become too controlled by people who are superior and too much rules and regulations deprive of people’s freedom. Furthermore, He notes “The Germans were able to create a society of total domination because of the competence of their police and civil service bureaucracies” (Rubenstein, 1978: 35). These bureaucracies become structures of domination. The leadership group has the majority of power that is vulnerable to committing corruptions and abusive exercise of power.

C. Newspaper article that illustrates either the strengths or dangers of bureaucracy.

In the newspaper article, “Gates takes aim at paring down military bureaucracy” by Robert Burns reports that Defense Secretary Robert Gates complains about Pentagon bureaucracy that is viewed as uncaring, rigid and opaque. He also makes point out that there are too many generals and admirals, and outlined an ambitious plan for reform. Gates mentions “roughly $ 10 billion in savings from trimming the bureaucracy”. In addition, he focuses his budget cuts on major weapons programs that are unnecessary or unaffordable. Gates reveals the problems of bureaucracy which is cost and inefficient. It shows bureaucracy’s drawback which leads to inefficiency and serious for development of society.

3. A. Imagine yourself as a worker in 19th century England. How do you think a worker would have responded to the program? What would they support? What would they reject? What would they not understand?

According to Marx, the class struggle under capitalism is between the ruling class or bourgeoisie and who labor for a wage, the working class or proletariat. “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of call struggles”( Marx, Engels 1848:3). “The worker is as part of the machinery. a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital”( Marx, Engels 1848:8). Marx also describes that the ruling class makes the rules that structure society. Marx made a set of demands which are 10points programs. He believes that the implementation of those policies would lead to a classless and stateless society.

I think that workers would like 10 points programs. They would understand about “Abolition of property in land is a good way to be an equal as their owners.” At that time, In England, many workers probably felt that their owners took the fruit of their labor. Workers had to work as long as owners wanted to without extra payment. Also, there were higher rates of unemployment so that they would believe that “Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the states” would be responsible for distribution of wealth which would provide more jobs that they can make money for living and develop their social level in the society by states. In addition, “Gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country” would be helpful for them. In fact, many workers worked very long hours and they lived in appalling conditions in overcrowded towns. However, there would be unnecessary to live in town because of jobs.

However, I think that many workers would not understand about “free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form.” Workers needed work and money to survive so that they would like their children to work rather than be educated in public schools.

B. Focus on today. What points of the 10 point program have come about and to what degree? What about the others? Should they come to be or not? Are any now unnecessary today?

According to Marx, he mentions “Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc” (Marx, Engels 1848:21). Nowadays, there is a law which has been established that all children are mandatorily needed to be educated in public school instead of working. Furthermore, what Marx concepts of “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” also applies to current income tax system. In the U.S tax regulations, people who generated more income are supposed to pay more taxes than those of who earn less. I believe that part of Marx’s 10 points program is necessary for people to be equalized in the society. Generally, income can be different based on educational level. Children have to be educated in order to make enough money for living. However, “Abolition of property in land” is not really necessary for today.

Marx desired of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property and individuality. He explains that no individuals should own any properties. Nowadays, most countries are capitalism. These countries grant permission allows individuals to possess properties. From my perspective, there are several advantages for government and people. First, the government does not have to manage extremely large amount of properties which is difficult and costly. Second, the government is able to levy taxes on properties individuals own. Third, people who own the properties would utilize it efficiently and create values. It will provide more jobs for local communities and stimulate economy.

4. A. What are the basic points of The Rules of Sociological Method?

The Rules of Sociological Method by Emile Durkheim, he understands that sociology is a science. Durkheim’s conception of sociology is as general social science conceived as the study of the form and function of social facts. Durkheim’s conception of sociology is an independent discipline of all other sciences and sets out to convince other to treat sociology as such and function of social facts. He asserts that sociology is a scientific study of a reality “a category of facts which present very special characteristics: they consist of manners of acting, thinking, and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him” (Durkheim, 1982:52). They have a coercive power over the individual and this is actually how we can indentify social facts because they are external to the individual and they are social. “I fulfill obligations which are defined in law and custom and which are external to myself and my actions” (Durkheim, 1982:50).

B. What did Durkheim says about how radical they were for his time?

Durkheim’s argument is to treat social facts things. The existence of social facts lead to scientific method “ to treat phenomena as things is to treat them as data and this constitutes the starting point for science”( Durkheim, 1982:69). He says what we need is scientifically developed concept and sociology needs to have a strict discipline. He also makes a point that preconception should be discarded. The important thing that Durkheim indicates is that sociologists must deny themselves not using science and scientific needs. He also mentions that social facts are studied objectively and observed data. “Personal” must be discarded. He asserts “thus it is the rule in the natural sciences to discard observable data that may be too personal to observe, retaining exclusively those data which present a sufficient degree of objectivity” (Durkheim, 1982:81). At that time, most sociologists tended to draw a conclusion about their theories based on what they think without experiments. However, However, Durkheim starts to develop scientific methods to explore society and if not suing scientifically method to find the society, it will be worthless.

C. Are they radical now? Why or why not?

Durkheim emphasizes that if data is based on personal opinions and feelings; it becomes subjective and obscures the research. He argues “for it to be possible to compare the different forms that a social phenomenon takes with different people, it must have been isolated from the time series to which it belongs” (Durkheim, 1982:147). Durkheim finds out that when dealing with social facts, the sociologist have to use statistical method. In fact, Durkheim’s theories are still radical now. Society deserves an independent science and society is supposed to study empirically and objectively. Eventually, it is difficult to discover the all conditions to identity the social facts, and he argues that we cannot limit ourselves to the study of a single people. Weber found that sociology is discipline of other sciences and those were different than physiological facts.

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