Max Weber: Iron Cage

Topics: Max Weber, Sociology, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Pages: 5 (1422 words) Published: February 1, 2015
“IRON CAGE”
In the fast moving times of the modern world, human beings have become very calculating, manipulative and running after the material pursuit in which they are eventually getting trapped into the invisible prison from which escape is almost impossible. This is what Max Weber meant by the metaphor "Iron Cage". Max Weber, a great thinker and a well known German Sociologist coined the term "An Iron Cage" in his works in early 1900’s. According to him the modern era human beings, especially in the western capitalist society are increasingly being caught in the process of Rationalism and the factors related to it such as, Bureaucracy, Disenchantment and Individualism. Through this essay we intent to agree with Weber about how he thought that Modern Capitalism in which people are rational is literally inescapable process in which they are getting locked into, and this ultimately gives rise to bureaucracy. We will give some evidences proving Weber ideas on how the protestant ethics contributed to the rise of capitalism and also show how there are no solid alternatives to this problem of bureaucracy.

In his book "Protestantism and the Spirit of Capitalism", Weber told us the Protestants who started off with an Ascetic life to whom their work was there "calling" i.e. their only purpose in life was to work all day and not get pleasure from the fruits of their labour as self consumption was considered morally wrong because they were not to enjoy the money they earn on themselves. But later on with the emergence of the modern capitalism, the Protestants eventually ended up in focussing more on the pursuit of money. They started applying rational and scientific methods in the ways of making money to increase their profit margins. This rational way is very much evident even today because people have lost their religious values and in the capitalist society we have now, they just want to seek more and more profit and build wealth more than they possibly could require. According to Weber this went against the traditional Catholic Doctrine where they intent to avoid materialist pursuit by adopting the spiritual way of life. This had a huge impact on people’s life because in the capitalist society today most people are not concerned with the nature of their job nor do they enjoy it much as long as their social status is maintained and their financial goals are accomplished. Weber through his writing has explained how people especially in the west were developing this rational, methodological and a calculating approach to lead a life which had completely triumphed over the old traditional and irrational way of making money to please the God. In the process of making money, whether you like it or not you are forced to adopt this methodological way where you work day and night not to get close to God but to gain profit and this is what Weber thought as the "Iron Cage of Capitalism", in which you rationally pursue your calling and the spirit of capitalism is a cage where we are imprisoned in. However Weber felt that the protestant ethics did not directly lead to spirit of capitalism, but it is one of the main factors that lead to it. According to him the old traditional way which was based mostly on kinship and values has shifted its form to goal oriented rationality. This is where Weber is switching his writings and explaining how the modern capitalism which gave rise to strict set of rules and regulations is directly giving rise to the growth of Bureaucracy because bureaucracy is the main example of Rationalization. Weber argued that the rational goal oriented profit seeking ways had a tremendous impact on people's lives because this had dominated their behaviour so much that the old spiritual values are being lost in the modern era. People were abandoning God, religion and spirituality in the name of freedom, insisting that it was not possible to free with the restrictions that the religions impose but they forget to...
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