A Case on Social Action

Topics: Sociology, Max Weber, Calvinism Pages: 2 (413 words) Published: April 28, 2009
Saurabh Meyan

A Source Of Social Action
Max Weber

According to Max Weber, individuals and cultures arbitrarily create their own values. There is a close connection between religion , the rise of economic capitalism and birth of modern civilization in western Europe. Weber emphasized the role of religious values, ideologies, and charismatic leaders in shaping societies. Weber's most famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-1905), introduced the concept of the “Protestant Ethic”. Weber theorized that certain Protestant religious beliefs promoted the growth of capitalism. He claimed a relationship existed between success in capitalist ventures and Protestant (in particular, Calvinist and Puritan sects) theology. The Calvinist doctrine of predestination posited that individuals could never know if they were to receive God's salvation. Weber views salvation as a key idea that drives action Weber’s interest in social change also leads him to be particularly interested in the issue of religious leadership, since social change requires leaders for motivation and for the direction of action. Here, Weber focuses on the prophet as the quintessential religious leader that drives change. Weber identifies two kinds of prophets, the exemplary prophet and the emissary prophet (pg 167). The exemplary prophet challenges the status quo by living an exemplary life, with an example being the Buddha. The prototypical emissary prophet is the kind found in the Hebrew Bible, who is sent by God to bring a message that people need to live differently. It is, of course, the emissary prophet who calls for change '' active ascetic change, according to Weber '' and in so doing ultimately leads to modern capitalism.

He proposed the idea of the charismaticleader, who exhibited both religious and political authority. Weber’s approach to religion and social change involves a particular conception of the relationship between interests (material and ideal) and...
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