Max Weber’s Sociological Concept of Business Legitimacy

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In his famous book The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber presented the idea that it was the Protestant reformations and what followed that gave the basis for the creation and expansion of capitalism in Europe and later on in the whole world. However, in his less known Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, collected treatises on the Sociology of Religion, Weber has also described how other significant world religions like Hinduism and Confucianism hindered the creation of capitalism in India and China although these countries had better productive, technological, political, and cultural preconditions for a capitalist change of the material reproduction of society.

Weber’s theory has not only a historical value. Weber’s Sociology of Religion has also an actuality for the twenty-first century understanding of the relations between politics, religion, economy, and society in a global context. Weber’s theory can explain why a special form of imperial state-dominated capitalism could develop in China – and not a liberal form like in the Western world. In the same way, Weber’s theory can explain why the Hindu caste system can continue to be a hindrance for the full development of a Western liberal form of capitalism in India.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Business Legitimacy : Responsibility, Ethics and Society
EditorsJacob Dahl Rendtorff
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9783030146214
ISBN (Electronic)9783030146221, 9783319688459
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 16 July 2019.


  • Spirit of capitalism
  • Protestant ethics
  • Rationalization
  • Disenchantment
  • Legitimization
  • Tradition
  • Legitimate order
  • Theodicy problem
  • Calvinistic work ethics
  • Modern economic man

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