Elizabeth Kolbert’s article “Why Work?” outlines the life of Max Weber and the circumstances that led to his essay; “The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism” Weber was a college professor, his daily routine lead to work burnout and he fell into depression. He left his job and during his recovery, he wrote the critically acclaimed two-page essay. He later added more thoughts to it. Weber is considered one of the founding fathers of sociology as it was not a field of study when he was alive (Kolbert, 2004). His essay outlines the rise of capitalism through Protestant ethics. This paper will take a brief look at his work and its importance in Sociology in present times.
In the late 1800s, two Christian churches were popular; the Catholic and the Protestant churches. Weber was a follower of the Protestant church. He observed that Catholics would regularly confess their sins and were cleansed of them by priests but the Protestants did not believe in that. They believed that only God was able to forgive sins and his intention would only be known on judgment day. This leads the Protestants to do good in the name of God in every field of their lives. They believed in working hard for the greater good and giving back to the community. This hard work gave rise to capitalism and the Protestants thrived as a community (Weber & Kalberg, 2013). Weber’s work is extremely important as it gives insight into the development of early capitalism and provides a better understanding of modern capitalism. His writings are also some of the earliest works done in the field of Sociology. They help us understand the reasons behind the success of capitalism in Germany and its failure in the rest of the world. This makes Weber’s work extremely relevant and important in today’s society.
Kolbert, E. (2004, November 21). Why Work? The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/11/29/why-work
Weber, M., & Kalberg, S. (2013). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315063645