Weber & The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism

Weber & The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism

Weber and Marx’s interpretation of religion and faith.

To fully appreciate the connection between religion and society from a sociological perspective, one needs to understand the ideas that Max Weber and Karl Marx presented. Weber’s concept of religion is based on the idea of theodicy as a social problem.

Theodicy is a concept or explanation that attempts to explain how a good which assumed to be ‘all good’ would allow evil to persist in the world. Puritans entrenched in this thinking developed concepts such as the Protestant Work Ethic which made work and other concepts a duty of the religious believer. Max Weber saw theodicy as a social problem because while it explained unanswerable questions it also had the impact of both creating order but disenchantment with theistic beliefs. The idea that work was an obligation is beneficial because it is a driver for building and creating, but at the same time, the modern world is dependent on the rational model (bureaucracy) in order to continue to provide services and production. The rational model seeks efficiency over religious concepts and therefore people become either slaves to the machine or they are slaves to a religious cause.

Karl Marx would see this same issue calling religion “the opiate of the masses” meaning that while answering puzzling questions, religion could be used to subjugate people into doing the states bidding by keeping them satisfied and compliant.


Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Mon, Feb 01, 2021. Weber & The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism Retrieved from

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