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Assignment guides: Fiona Walshe's Assignment on Weber


(April 21, 1864- June 14, 1920). Max Weber was a German sociologist, mysticism philosopher, and political economist. He was best known for his thesis combining economic sociology and sociology of religion. His ideas influenced social theory, social research, and the entire discipline of sociology. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founding architects of sociology. Courtesy of New Mexico State University


Sample of slideshows available on Weber.

Weber's Theory

Weber and Religion.

The study of comparative religion forms a major part of Weber’s program, and one of his books on the subject (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) is regularly taught in sociology courses.  While this book should be considered in the broader context of Weber’s comparative studies and agenda, it is easier to summarize it separately and then go on to mention some key elements of Weber’s broader work in the sociology of religion. 

Weber begins The Protestant Ethic by noting an apparent association between certain religious affiliations (particularly Protestantism) and business success, and suggests that this association might indicate a causal connection between the two.  He then goes on to characterize the “spirit of capitalism” by quoting a number of passages from Benjamin Franklin’s writing that he considers exemplary of this spirit in its purest, ideal-typical form.  At the core of the spirit of capitalism is a work ethic in which any time spent not actually making money is wasted time.  Franklin champions the pursuit of profit for its own sake, and by the most systematic and rational means possible.  Weber identifies Franklin’s approach, not as form of business practice, but as an ethos (or, as Weber describes it, an ethic).  It is this ethic, claims Weber, that is specific to modern western capitalism, and it is based on Luther’s idea of the calling or vocation.  More...

Encyclopedia Britannica Online Weber article

Max Weber. (2015). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: [Accessed 4th February 2015]