Religion and Economic Action: The Protestant Ethic, the Rise of Capitalism and the Abuses of Scholarship
Published: November 1993© 1993
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 170 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.02
170 Pages, 6.00 x 9.02 x 0.46 in
The idea that capitalism grew out of Puritan values, as unlikely as it seems, has aroused much interest among economic historians. First proposed by Max Weber, the hypothesis gained wide acceptance through the writings of R.H. Tawney. In this bold and hard-hitting essay, Samuelsson cuts through the controversy and convincingly challenges Weber's hypothesis and many of Tawney's theories. His vigorous reassessment of the spirit and ethics of both capitalism and Puritanism effectively dismantles the notion of any functional relationship between Christianity and capitalism.
First published in Sweden in 1957, Samuelsson's essay was translated into English in 1961 and had an immediate impact on scholarly debates in the English-speaking world. His work will be of special interest to students of religious history, economics, and political science.
"Few general hypotheses in the social sciences have aroused more interest, and in recent years won wider acceptance, than Max Weber's hypothesis that radical Protestantism was a chief determinant of the development of capitalism. Later theorists indeed have tried to extend the hypothesis to apply more generally to the relation between non-economic values and economic behaviour. In these circumstances many students of the social sciences will be interested in this book by an able economic historian, which does not just tinker with Weber's hypothesis but leaves it in ruins."George C. Homans, Professor Sociology at Harvard University