Weber’s Protestant Ethic Thesis in Five Steps




As a result of many years of reading about and teaching Max Weber’s famous Protestant Ethic thesis, I have developed an approach to covering this material in both my undergraduate and graduate theory courses which has been beneficial to students and has helped them make sense of the rather complex argument developed by Weber. I provide a working model of all such scholarly inquires geared off the Science Triad, culminating in a five-step approach to organizing and explaining the Weber thesis. In addition, I provide an annotated bibliography of selected scholarly ruminations on Weber’s work in general and the Protestant Ethic thesis in particular.


Weber, Max, Protestant Ethic, idealism, political theology, Science Triad, sociological theory, calling


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  1. Agamben, Giorgio. 2005. The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, translated by P. Dailey. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  2. Agar, Jolyon. 2015. “Hegel’s Political Theology: ‘True Infinity’, Dialectical Panentheism and Social Criticism.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 41 (10):1093- 1111.

  3. Barbalet, Jack. 2008. Weber, Passion and Profits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  4. Bargheer, Stefan. 2017. “The Invention of Theory: A Transnational Case Study of the Changing Status of Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic Thesis.” Theory and Society 46:497-541.

  5. Chriss, James J. 2018. “Vico and the Divine Drama.” Berlin Journal of Critical Theory 2 (3):31-58.

  6. Derman, Joshua. 2011. “Max Weber and Charisma: A Transatlantic Affair.” New German Critique 38 (2):51-88.

  7. Ferrarotti, F. (2011). Bismarck’s Orphan: The Modern World and Its Destiny, from “Disenchantment” to the “Steel Cage”. Academicus International Scientific Journal, 2(04), 11-34.

  8. Frey, Christiane. 2008. “κλῆσις/Beruf: Luther, Weber, Agamben.” New German Critique 35 (3):35-56.

  9. Gouldner, Alvin W. 1980. The Two Marxisms. New York: Seabury Press.

  10. Greenfield, Liah. 2001. The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  11. Heron, Nicholas. 2018. Liturgical Power: Between Economic and Political Theology. New York: Fordham University Press.

  12. Magalhães, Pedro T. 2016. “A Contingent Affinity: Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and the Challenge of Modern Politics.” Journal of the History of Ideas 77 (2):283- 304.

  13. Merton, Robert K. 1968. Social Theory and Social Structure, enlarged ed. New York: Free Press.

  14. Milbank, John. 1991. The Religious Dimension in the Thought of Giambattista Vico, 1668-1744, part 1: The Early Metaphysics. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

  15. Mommsen, Wolfgang J. 1990 [1959]. Max Weber and German Politics, 1890- 1920, translated by M.S. Steinberg. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  16. Parsons, Talcott. 1935. “H.M. Robertson on Max Weber and His School.” Journal of Political Economy 43 (5):688-696.

  17. Schmitt, Carl. 2005. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, translated by G. Schwab. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  18. Van Hoorn, André and Robbert Maseland. 2013. “Does a Protestant Work Ethic Exist? Evidence from the Well-Being Effect of Unemployment.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 91:1-12.

  19. Weber, Max. 1992 [1930]. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. By T. Parsons. London: Routledge.

  20. Zafirovski, Milan. 2018. “Calvinist Predestination and the Spirit of Capitalism: The Religious Argument of the Weber Thesis Reexamined.” Human Studies 41:565-602.




How to Cite

Chriss, J. (2019) “Weber’s Protestant Ethic Thesis in Five Steps”, Academicus International Scientific Journal. Vlora, Albania, 10(20), pp. 51–65. doi: 10.7336/academicus.2019.20.04.