Max Weber is one of the philosophers best able to explain to us the peculiar economic system we live within called capitalism. Born Erfurt in Germany in 1864, Weber grew up to see his country
convulsed by the dramatic changes of the Industrial Revolution. Cities were exploding in size. Vast companies were forming. A new managerial elite was replacing the old aristocracy. Weber spent his life analyzing these changes and he developed some key ideas with which we can better understand the workings and future of
capitalism. The standard view is that capitalism began as a result of developments in
technology especially steam power. But Weber proposed something more
interesting that what actually made capitalism possible was a set of ideas and in particular religious ideas and not just any religious ideas. Capitalism was created by Protestantism,
specifically Calvinism. In his great work The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, published in 1905, Weber laid out some of the reasons why he believed Protestant Christianity had been so crucial to capitalism. In Weber’s analysis Catholics have it relatively easy. They were able to confess their
transgressions at regular intervals and can be cleansed by priests. But no such purifications are available to Protestants who believe that only god is able to forgive anyone and he won’t make his intentions known until the day of judgment. Until then Weber alleged Protestants are left with
heightened feelings of anxiety as well as lifelong guilty desires to prove
their virtue to a severe all-seeing but silent god. In Weber’s eyes Protestant feelings of guilt were
diverted into an obsession with hard work. This was what he called the Protestant
work ethic. The sins of Adam could only be expunged through constant toil. Not coincidentally there were far fewer festivals and days of rest in Protestantism. God didn’t like time off. Catholics had limited their conception
of holy work to the activities of priests, monks and nuns but now Protestants declared that work of any kind could be done in the name of God even jobs like being a baker or an
accountant. This lent new moral energy and
earnestness to all branches of professional life. In Catholic countries the family was and
often still is everything. But Protestants took a less benevolent
view of family. The family could be a haven for selfish and egoistic motives. For early Protestants one was meant to direct one’s selfless energies to the community as a whole, the public realm, where everyone deserved fairness and dignity. Protestantism and eventually scientific capitalism turned its back on miracles. Weber called this the disenchantment of the world. So prosperity wasn’t to be thought of as
something mysteriously ordained by God, it could only be the result of thinking
methodically, acting honestly, and working industriously and sensibly
over many years. Without a belief in miracles people turn to science for explanations and changes which encouraged scientific investigation and discovery and eventually technological booms. Taken together these five factors
created, in Weber’s eyes, the crucial catalytic ingredients for
capitalism to take hold. Marx had argued that religion was the
opium of the masses, a drug that induced passive acceptance of the horrors of capitalism. But Weber turned this dictum on its head. People didn’t tolerate capitalism
because of religion. They only became capitalists as a result
of their religion. There are about 35 countries where
capitalism is now well developed. It probably works best in Germany where
Weber first observed it. But in the remaining 161 nations it arguably isn’t working very well at all. This is a source of much puzzlement and
distress. Billions of dollars in aid are transferred every year from the rich to the poor parts of the world. But a Weberian analysis tells us that these materialist interventions will never work because the problem isn’t really a material one to begin with Instead certain countries for Weber fail to succeed at capitalism because they don’t feel anxious and guilty enough. They trust too much in miracles. They like to celebrate now rather than
invest in tomorrow and their members feel it’s acceptable to steal from the community in order to enrich their families favoring the clan over the
nation. Today, Weber would counsel those who wish to spread capitalism to concentrate on our equivalent of religion — culture. It’s a nation’s attitudes hopes and a
sense of what life is about that produces an economy that either
flourishes or flounders. To reduce poverty, Weber would say one has to start at the level of ideas. What the World Bank and the IMF should
be giving sub-saharan Africa is not, in a Weberian analysis, money and technology but a new outlook. The decisive question for an economy should not be what the rate of inflation is but what’s on TV tonight. Weber was writing in an age of revolution. He, too, wanted things to change but he believed that one first had to work out how political power operated. Weber believed that humanity had gone through three distinct types of power. The older societies operated according
to what he called traditional authority where kings relied on folklore and
divinity to justify their power. Then came the age of charismatic authority where a heroic individual, most famously Napoleon, could rise to power with a magnetic personality and change everything through passion and will. However, Weber explained that we had now entered a third age of bureaucratic authority. Bureaucracy achieves its power via knowledge. Only the bureaucrats know how stuff works and it will take an outsider years to work it out. Most of us simply give up, usefully for
the powers that be. The dominance of bureaucracy has major implications for anyone trying to change a nation. There is often an understandable but
misguided desire to think that one just has to change the leader. But in fact removing a leader almost never has the degree of impact that is hoped for. If we’re to get things to go better much
of it will have to come through outwardly rather undramatic bureaucratic processes. It will come through the marshalling of statistical evidence, patient briefings to ministers, testimonies to committee hearings, and a minute study of budgets. Weber tells us how power works now and reminds us that ideas may be far more important than tools or money in changing nations. It’s a hugely significant thesis. With Weber’s guidance we learn that so much which we associate with vast, impersonal, external forces is, in fact, dependent upon something utterly intimate and perhaps more malleable: the thoughts in our own heads.

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78 Responses

  1. Meade Vlog channel says:

    BOSTON COMMON brought me here.

  2. Damo Revo says:

    thanks for this

  3. UNC3345 says:

    4:15 So Alaska is not capitalist?

  4. I React to YouTubers! says:

    The only problem with capitalism is that it comes from industrialisation, and more development means more suicide. More moneycapitalism more suicides. This is one of the only problems with capitalism. BTW, I am 12, and in 7th grade. 😉

  5. TheJaseku says:

    3:58 just blew my mind and that's a really hard thing to do.

  6. Ducsmutter says:

    4:15 So Capitalism isn't working in Alaska? 😀

  7. Ed Mumm says:

    The opium does not only mean passive acceptance o lethargy, it also means pleasure and hope (according to Marx), so it is important to understand the meaning in a "Heraclitus way" to not emit a biased message.

  8. StopFear says:

    As someone who has been a Calvinist (Reformed Protestant is another name for it) for over ten years I think I observed it to be true that all of us are obsessed with working for the work’s sake. But about living with guilt? That’s actually very anti-Calvinist idea. One of the main points of Calvinism is that we are forgiven and shouldn’t feel guilty about transgressions of the past for which we repented.

  9. hajer alfa says:

    All work is holy…. ok provide that info to prostitutes,pimps,porn stars…

  10. Stones Jones says:

    Hahahahhahaha @ the billions of dollars invested in por countries. Hilarious! These vids are so faulty and stale.

  11. Edward Backman says:

    3:40 Protestantism was for Marx, “bourgeois Christianity.” He’s coming from Hegel, another fan of the reformation. I don’t think Weber’s thought contradicts Marx at all. It is very marxist to imagine the character of Christianity changing. For Marx, you cannot really say he thought that religion was ‘x.’ When he said religion is the opiate of the masses he was speaking in a historical context, namely mid 19th ce Germany. And if you look at the whole quote, the contraction isn’t necessarily negative. “It is the sigh of an oppressed people, the heart of a heartless world.” So it was for an increasingly wealthy bourgeois middle class working within the restricted framework imposed by an entrenched aristocracy.

  12. Logic Seeker says:

    I hate religion

  13. jklñpoiueuasdfwqwqwwwww says:

    I though he was saying "vapor" instead of "Weber"

  14. Daniel Allen says:

    There’s a lot more to Weber than what is in this video. Some of this is good, some of it a little shaky.

    I’m a university student studying under an authority on Weber.

  15. Arrow Blade says:

    Türkçe çeviri ki yaptıysa sağolsun zahmet olmuş Google amcaya danışmış heralde

  16. David Denenny says:

    This video is suggesting that Weber wanted to spread capitalism? That's a funny joke.

  17. Shipra Bhardwaj says:

    You got it wrong at so many levels.

    4:42 "The members of their society feel that it's acceptable to steal from the community in order to enrich themselves"

    How could you think, say and let millions of people hear such a thing?

    Consider reading Edward Said.

  18. UNIQUE VIDS says:


  19. Elliott Bronstein says:

    But weren't catholic countries like Venice (circa 1300) the first western nations to really prosper under capitalism? How can that be attributed to the protestant work ethic?

  20. Feyza Aksakal says:

    you should make a REAL translation to Turkish, please 🙂

  21. Pere Vilalta says:


  22. Afsal P says:

    it's really amazing

  23. yellowburger says:

    That map of capitalism is crap. It makes Taiwan non-capitalist, which is totally pro-Chinese bullshit. Taiwan should be blue like South Korea and Japan. One of the many reasons why you suck, de Botton. Although you sound brilliant with that accent.

  24. yellowburger says:

    And another problem with Botton's analysis is that Weber's "Protestant Ethic" was an explanation of how capitalism arose historically. It says nothing about why countries today either develop or remain underdeveloped. Once capitalism arose, and spread globally–along with the nation state–Weber's analysis is no longer applicable in the same way. Countries are not poor today because they are not protestant. Hence, the reason why Japan, for example, is "capitalist," but not protestant. The protestant aspect of capitalism was left behind long ago. The causes of underdevelopment today require a totally different hypothesis than that provided by good old Weber in the PEATSOC.

  25. G E S T A L T says:

    Please, Add Tamil subtitles 😊😊😊

  26. Mej says:

    You talk about money given to sub Saharan Africa but you don't mention what has been stolen from there for centuries?

  27. Matthew Shin says:

    Whether Weber thought protestants were the cause of capitalism or they were overrepresented in capitalist societies, it still shows how elementary and unfounded elite philosophers' ideas were at times. One needs only to look at the "family values" and apathy-for-the-greater-community views of American evangelicals to see how Weber's imagination could not comprehend the unpredictability of the nature of future humans. I think it's usually not a good idea to talk about how one group of people adhering to certain ideals act in a certain way or share certain characteristics. Human nature is much more complex and chaotic to be described in terms of simple words and logic.

  28. Jalwa Media says:


  29. Alexandre Bandelier says:

    Thank you for these videos, they are very informative, and ideas are well explained. In part maybe because they are always contextualized. See you!

  30. 林祝凱 says:

    and in the future, Which system /doctrine will be privileged ?

  31. DJ Toddles says:

    China isn't successfully implementing capitalism? Really?

  32. Kyra Verheyen says:

    Weber had far more important ideas than the connection between capitalism and protestantism, I feel like the The School of Life videos often pick certain parts of a scientist's work and ignore the rest. Saw this in the video about Durkheim as well.

  33. 新津玄师 says:

    A misleading video,just read his books dude

  34. Jose Fadul says:

    See also

  35. U. Becker says:

    It's based on Jewish workethics as Prof. Lynn White pointed out (Princeton)

  36. Elizabeth Askander says:

    But all those things they mentioned about Protestants are the opposite of what we, and even Calvinists even believe… it’s not by works it’s by faith alone… works is Catholicism more so. No idea where this guy gets his religious dogma ideas

  37. Mr. Mojo Risin says:

    5:08 – I don't think these institutions are interested in the prospering of developing countries (not even mentioning that the key problem could be, that some nations may just have a whole other idea of what developement even means and the concept of re-educating them causes heavy ethical problems, especially in the shadow of the colonial age). The prospering of the so-called third world would only cause more competition for the first and prevent the latter from access to cheap labour, ressources and the ability to externalize. This may sound like a communist conspiracy theory, but if you actually look at the negotiations these institutions lead with developing countries (doha-round), the unfair rules they implied (f.e. regarding deregulations such as customs) and the effects of the washington consensus, there's almost no other conclusion than those institutions primarily being tools for advancing political and economic interests of developed countries, which are remaining a state of inequality.

  38. David Marković says:

    Jebo ti ja mater po sred picke

  39. Jessica Nascimento says:

    "Ora et labora" – Rule of St Benedict

  40. Catarina Garcia says:

    Can you do a video about Karl Marx please.

  41. Vislav says:

    Yes! Fuck capitalism. The rich just get richer, as usual, and the problems are not going away.

  42. Yunus Duran says:

    Please put more sociological videos. They're very useful.

  43. Ahmad Cheema says:

    certainly more convincing than Marx.

  44. hamza azzouz says:

    The Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldun is the founder of sociology . Five centuries later the first Western thinker appeared : French philosopher (Auguste Comte ) after reading Ibn Khaldun's books because of the emergence of social problems as a result of the French Revolution.

  45. Hik Molokov says:

    Wait… Alaskan capitalism doesn't work? What?!

  46. Ricky Chisaira says:

    lol 4:12 Alaska is painted red

  47. Life-Row-Toll says:

    The Marxist will rationalize everything that is GOOD or POSITIVE to something BAD or NEGATIVE, so in the long con destroy nations and societies.

    Let us mark: Marxism, Technocracy, Socialism, Communism NEED CAPITAL to just start their unrealistic "Utopia".

  48. Emmanuel Quinones says:

    The real reason why Protestants like myself still adhere to "the Protestant work ethic" is simply due to the interpretation of Scripture. We view "work" as ordained by God to give us dignity meaning and purpose; "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." – Genesis 2:15 ESV  God places Adam to "work" the garden before the Fall of Man so work is considered a blessing from God something that is meant to bring Him glory. Weber is wrong however that Protestants believe that "work" that leads to prosperity grants you into heaven, Protestants do not believe that, we do believe that when we prosper it is rather a blessing from God; "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." – Proverbs 14:23 NIV. Later Paul writes; "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things." – Phillipians 4:8 NIV Protestants tend to focus our minds and souls on honest work and believe its a blessing and means to serve God rather than it being a curse of some sorts. And lastly, Protestants many of them myself included truly do believe in miracles, we believe that every day, every breath, every moment is miracle ordained by God, but that most importantly every miracle in the Bible is true and that Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior was crucified and was raised from dead and ascended into heaven is the ULTIMATE MIRACLE validating our faith and our hope in Christ. Other than that I love these videos and will continue to watch them! Thanks!

  49. Johana Quiroz says:

    Gracias a ti estoy aprendiendo a pronunciar bien los nombres de mis personajes favoritos. muchas Gracias

  50. Johana Quiroz says:

    could you please do a video about Ludwing von Bertalanffy? thanks in advance

  51. Johana Quiroz says:

    I love your voice by the way

  52. Donnie Luc says:

    For all you arm chair pseudo intellectuals, economics is not an exact science. Period.
    You're welcome

  53. Kenneth Sumerford says:

    Protestantism did help Capitalism. Study the Scottish Enlightenment. People believed it was their duty to improve or make Progress for their family, community and country. The new scientific discoveries and new technologies increased the need for capital to fund the sciences and technologies. Bureaucracies often lead to mediocrities and little risk taking. The video misses a lot of these areas. And God can prosper a nation which is somewhat righteous, especially compared to more wicked countries. Corruption is wickedness.

  54. Panha Sok says:

    The bureaucratic authority=rational-legal authority which lots of books especially the translation of Weber's work portrayed him as an elitist. However, he is not an elitist. And there is no clear cut between traditional, charismatic and legal-rational authority. He explained the bureaucracy is — not only the state bureaucracy but also every fiber of society is in itself bureaucracy, for instance capitalism.

  55. Bapsae Silver says:

    Thank you i passed my bc of you

  56. Cole Reed says:

    lol at the idea all our charity cannot Save The Poor! we take their resources, train assassins to control the operation, the money goes to American corporations and a few puppet dictators.

    when they are bankrupt we send "aid' so they can pay off loans to western bankers.

  57. Jamie Wiseman says:




  59. Nazan Kasapoğlu says:

    Çok kötü bir tercüme olmuş

  60. Nicolás Gabriel Perlini says:


  61. S. Andrei Ostric says:

    If the family is not the center unit of society and the community is, isn't that also the root of communism? Though marx was technically Jewish he was a Lutheran while he lived. My point is, did not Weber give a backhanded explanation of why communism exists question marx aren't the shadows of that already explained in this?

  62. Robert Binner Mattfeldt says:


  63. GreatUnwashedMass says:

    I wonder how much of this video is an interpretation of Weber intended to flatter and heighten his accuracy but using the knowledge of the history in between to do it.

  64. the commenter says:

    China and Taiwan are not highlighted in that world map? Seriously?

  65. Erez Buki says:

    Weber did not posit "Ages" of charismatic and traditional authority. He posited that there are three kinds of legitimate authority; charismatic authority, legal authority, and traditional authority. He said that bureaucracies draw from all three forms of authority as a means for legitimating the discipline they enforce. There are a number of other Weberian ideas that are poorly explained here.

  66. beatonthedonis47 says:

    Protestantism sounds a bit of a bummer.

  67. msaimee2012 says:

    This isn't how I interpreted Weber in my academic studies at all.

  68. Chad Carson says:

    The Sabbath?

  69. Maria Callous says:

    notice the most advanced nations are Capitalist nations. The machine age is called the industrial revolution btw. just machines.

  70. Maria Callous says:

    Kings owned all the land. They bestowed land on relatives such as barons and dukes and others. The nobility. Capitalism allowed anyone to own land if you could buy it. just a note…

  71. JoeMilano9 says:

    Weber 🔥

  72. Little Moth Big Wings says:

    I love your accent. I'm from Brazil and I loved it!! 💚

  73. roweenie says:

    In the map at 4:05, you have the U.S. state of Alaska as one of the countries in which captilasim doesn't work.

    How many more mistakes are in there that we don't notice?

  74. Diogo Poli Sanchotene says:

    00:00 Sociology – Max Weber
    00:41 1. Why does Capitalism exists?
    01:18 i) Protestantism makes you feel guilty
    01:51 ii) God likes hard work
    02:13 iii) All work is holy
    02:35 iv) It's the community, not the family, that counts
    02:59 v) There aren't miracles
    03:06 The disenchantment od the world
    03:58 2. How do you develop Capitalism around the world?
    05:23 3. How can we change the world?
    05:43 Traditional authority
    05:52 Charismatic authority
    06:02 Bureaucratic authority

  75. Juan Carlos Núñez says:

    Many thanks " School of life"

  76. pla veu says:

    I forgot his name and was just looking around this channel for weber thanks!

  77. Brain Inavat says:

    I think Protestants get to fuck more than Catholics.

  78. أنيس بنتهامي says:

    This video made me like Protestantism

  79. Clare says:

    I wish I watched this video when I made my economic argument for Max Weber. Everything in this video was 100% accurate.

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