The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Summary

Chapter 5 - Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism

Summary Chapter 5 - Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism

This section also suggests that Weber's attitude toward the modern capitalistic system is ambivalent at best. Notice his use of the imagery of an "iron cage" to describe the situation of individuals in the modern world. They are trapped in a larger system of institutions and values that define their opportunities in life. While capitalism needed ascetic Protestantism in order to become powerful, once it gained that power it took on a life of its own. We see, then, Weber's belief that capitalism's development was contingent on historical circumstances such as the Reformation. We also see Weber's belief that culture and institutions play an important role in defining people's values and opportunities.

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