No 'New Spirit'? Max Weber's Account of the Dynamic of Contemporary Capitalism Through 'Pure Adaptation' and the Shaping of Adequate Subjects

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Abstract

This article takes issue with Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello's already classic thesis according to which contemporary capitalism rests on a 'new spirit', bringing to bear a reading of Weber's own account of the dynamic and spirit of the contemporary capitalism of his age, and of the way in which it mobilises workers and entrepreneurs. More specifically the article highlights Weber's idea that advanced capitalism, far from relying on any 'new spirit', simply thrives by fostering 'pure adaptation' and both adequate and active 'economic subjects'. This is shown to be due, in particular, to the dynamic of rationality and irrationality at the heart of the spirit that turned capitalism into a mass system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-216
JournalMax Weber Studies
Volume11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • adaptation
  • rationality
  • spirit of capitalism
  • type of human being

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