M. Weber's approach

The German economic historian and sociologist M. Weber (1864–1920) focused on the influence of three institutions—politics, ethics, and religion—on the development of the economy of capitalism. From the standpoint of the cultural approach of M. Weber, these institutions form the basis of social mechanisms that regulate the development of economic life. It is they who form the necessary spiritual qualities, special features of the human character, allowing not to be afraid of innovations and changes in traditions, to look at their work as a spiritual destination. A special role is played by the institution of Protestantism as an active religion that “moves to work as a vocation.” The purpose of these institutions is to influence the spiritual life through authority, traditions, legal norms, and finally, emotional recognition; to form the “spirit of capitalism.”

Acting as a subject of management, religious institutions form the labor, morality of economic entities (entrepreneurs and workers) in accordance with the norms and rules prescribed by the Protestant ethics, in order to achieve their own well-being. The more active the activity of religious institutions, the faster the formation of social psychology as an element of the capitalist Spirit, the assimilation by Protestants of moral rules that are pragmatic in nature, and the rise of ascetic Protestantism occur.

Social consciousness, embodied in a set of norms and rules, an active Protestant religion, manifests itself in the form of systematized rational thinking based on deep moral convictions, and generates a certain type of economic behavior. The controlled elements of the social mechanism, in the context of the Weber concept, include such a type of rational behavior, in the process of which “a systematic and rational desire for legitimate profit within the framework of one’s profession” is realized (Weber M. Selected Works. M., 1990. p. 85). This type of behavior found its most adequate form in the capitalist enterprise, and the capitalist enterprise, in turn, found in it the most adequate spiritual driving force.

Obviously, the essence of the contradiction in the development of the processes of formation of the “spirit of capitalism” is that the natural nature of man is not characterized by rational, purely purposeful activity to increase capital with a significant limitation of his own needs. But there is a demand for such activities in society. And the more actively this request is realized in the activities of religious, ethical and political institutions, the more naturally a person comprehends his new destiny in serving the prosperity of capitalist society. The solution to the contradiction is to make the pursuit of rationality an inherent property of human nature and, accordingly; human behavior.