Reading Questions for Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic


So for Tuesday, we are beginning Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.  As you’re reading, please consider the following questions.

(1) A non-Weber question, but something that you might want to keep in mind as you try to draw a contrast between Weber and Marx: how does Marx understand our “consciousness” (our ideas, our political institutions, individual motivations, and so forth)? 

(2) In the introduction, Weber introduces the concept of “rationalization.”  What does this mean?  Think of an example, and then try to come up with an overall definition.

(3) What is capitalism, for Weber?  Why is capitalism not simply about the pursuit of proft or greed?

(4) What does Weber think are some of the unique features of modern capitalism?

(5) What precisely is Weber trying to explain?  Or more specifically, what is this “spirit” of capitalism that he talks about?

(6) In broad terms (and they have to be broad, since we have not yet read his full explanation), what is Weber’s explanation?  How does it differe from Marx’s?


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