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Weber, Passion and Profits
'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' in Context

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  • Date Published: February 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521174442

$ 43.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is one of the best-known and most enduring texts of classical sociology, continually inspirational and widely read by both scholars and students. In an insightful interpretation, Jack Barbalet discloses that Weber's work is not simply about the cultural origins of capitalism but an allegory concerning the Germany of his day. Situating The Protestant Ethic in the development of Weber's prior and subsequent writing, Barbalet traces changes in his understanding of key concepts including 'calling' and 'rationality'. In a close analysis of the ethical underpinnings of the capitalist spirit and of the institutional structure of capitalism, Barbalet identifies continuities between Weber and the eighteenth-century founder of economic science, Adam Smith, as well as Weber's contemporary, the American firebrand Thorstein Veblen. Finally, by considering Weber's investigation of Judaism and capitalism, important aspects of his account of Protestantism and capitalism are revealed.

    • A striking interpretation of Weber's arguments concerning Judaism and capitalism
    • Compares Weber's argument with detailed accounts of Adam Smith's and Thorstein Veblen's treatments of the spirit of capitalism
    • Interprets the Protestant ethic argument and links it to Weber's earlier neglected work as well as his contemporary methodological essays
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    • Winner of the 2010 Stephen Crook Memorial Prize of the Australian Sociological Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Where secondary sources about Max Weber’s oeuvre often show too much deference to the old master, Jack Barbalet’s re-appraisal of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism refreshingly dissects and contests its core thesis. Not only does Barbalet provide a sophisticated historical contextualization of this highly influential book and trace its links to Weber’s other writings, he also deploys his expertise in the sociology of emotions to mount a serious challenge to Weber’s central arguments and to contrast them with those of Adam Smith and Thorstein Veblen. This makes Weber, Passion and Profits a real tour de force, and surely required reading for anyone interested in Max Weber’s ideas and in the history of social thought." - Dr Patrick Baert, Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge

    "Jack Barbalet’s reading of Max Weber’s sociology of religious asceticism extracts a new richness from these classical texts and restores to modern sociology a discourse – passion, virtue and calling – which we have unfortunately lost. More than simply an interpretation of Weber’s work on the Protestant sects, Barbalet situates his appreciation of Weber within the broader context of theories of the market, the missing work on Roman Catholicism and anti-Semitism. Weber, Passions and Profits, building on his earlier work on emotions, is not only a work of immense scholarship but also a work of passion." - Bryan S. Turner, Editor of The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology (2006)

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521174442
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. From the inaugural lecture to the Protestant ethic: political education and German futures
    2. From the Protestant ethic to the vocation lectures: Beruf, rationality and emotion
    3. Passions and profits: the emotional origins of capitalism in seventeenth-century England
    4. Protestant virtues and deferred gratification: Max Weber and Adam Smith on the spirit of capitalism
    5. Ideal type, institutional and evolutionary analyses of the origins of capitalism: Max Weber and Thorstein Veblen
    6. The Jewish question: religious doctrine and sociological method

  • Author

    Jack Barbalet, University of Western Sydney


    • Winner of the 2010 Stephen Crook Memorial Prize of the Australian Sociological Association

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