"The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (German: Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus) is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by American sociologist Talcott Parsons in 1930. It is considered a founding text in economic sociology and a milestone contribution to sociological thought in general.
In the book, Weber wrote that capitalism in Northern Europe evolved when the Protestant (particularly Calvinist) ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investment. In other words, the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism. In his book, apart from Calvinists, Weber also discusses Lutherans (especially Pietists, but also notes differences between traditional Lutherans and Calvinists), Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, and Moravians (specifically referring to the Herrnhut-based community under Count von Zinzendorf's spiritual lead).
In 1998, the International Sociological Association listed this work as the fourth most important sociological book of the 20th century, after Weber's Economy and Society, Mills' The Sociological Imagination, and Merton's Social Theory and Social Structure. It is the 8th most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950."
"Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (/ˈveɪbər/; German: [ˈveːbɐ]; 21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economist, who is regarded among the most important theorists on the development of modern Western society. His ideas would profoundly influence social theory and social research. Despite being recognized as one of the fathers of sociology, along with Karl Marx, Auguste Comte and Émile Durkheim, Weber never saw himself as a sociologist, but as a historian.
Unlike Émile Durkheim, Weber did not believe in monocausal explanations, proposing instead that for any outcome there can be multiple causes. As such, he was a key proponent of methodological anti-positivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive (rather than empiricist) methods, based on understanding the purpose and meanings that individuals attach to their own actions. Weber's main intellectual concern was in understanding the processes of rationalisation, secularisation, and "disenchantment", which he took to be the result of a new way of thinking about the world, associating such processes with the rise of capitalism and modernity.
Weber is best known for his thesis combining economic sociology and the sociology of religion, emphasising the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism (contrasting Marx's historical materialism). Weber would first elaborate his theory in his seminal work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), where he attributed ascetic Protestantism as one of the major "elective affinities" involved in the rise of market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state in the Western world. Arguing the boosting of capitalism as a basic tenet of Protestantism, Weber suggested that the spirit of capitalism is inherent to Protestant religious values. Protestant Ethic would form the earliest part in Weber's broader investigations into world religion, as he later examined the religions of China and India, as well as ancient Judaism, with particular regard to their differing economic consequences and conditions of social stratification."