Discuss about Social Thought & Social Change……………..
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The protestant ethic ideology was mainly evident in Europe and Asia after the Reformation where the people realised that they must work hard and be innovative in order to get good careers for their own well being. This was as opposed to the earlier Catholicism ideals of humility and non pursuit of material wealth in the hope of eternal life thereafter. They realised that they had to pursue their own interests to ensure their own survival. People started engaging in serious business where the driving force was profit maximization. The main capitalistic and protestant nations like the United States were experiencing much more rapid economic growth compared to their more catholic dominated counterparts like Russia. This was mainly due to Catholicism placing more emphasis on the after life while Protestantism stressed the worldly life. Catholics believed that God usually rewards earthly virtues of humility and the forsaking of material wealth while Protestantism taught that everybody holds his or her destiny in his or her own hands. Therefore instead of hoping for a better life one should ensure he makes the most out of his life on earth by being rather individualistic.
The protestant ethic has continued to be relevant in today’s social arena based on the changes that we are witnessing. Many individuals have embraced hard work as the sure way to success and prosperity. The results of hard work are economic power and freedom (Jacob, 2004). Therefore as Weber proposed, people and organizations must prioritise hard work in all their engagements. But for the results to be realised one must have been religious so as to appreciate the values. This creates a scenario where every individual or organization will be accorded benefits equivalent to the value of hard work. This therefore supports the notion of people and organizations owning private property based on the amount and value of their hard work. The link between material progress and religion was broken because most of the developed economies today like the USA cannot be said to be more religious than countries like Italy. These developed economies also levy a lot of taxes to their people and businesses and it becomes hard for new businesses to open. According to Stephen (2003), in Marxism, religion was viewed to be for the poor and the oppressed who were mainly the working class. They did not own anything despite working hard for many hours. The wages they got for their hard work were too low to guarantee a change in their lifestyles and they therefore continued to be oppressed. The notion put forward by Weber that hard work pays was not recognised by Marx. The social class according to Weber was not fixed; those who were at the bottom of the society could rise and join the wealthy if they got the relevant education to ensure they had the right skills. This is because good skills could increase the demand for ones services and this could result to more income which could increase ones purchasing power and be able to afford what they could previously not.
The protestant ethic is manifested in most of the industrialized nations because the main reason why they engage in business is to maximise profits. For this to be attained a lot of emphasis is laid on frugality where expenses must be maintained at their minimum and spending is only on the basic needs, entrepreneurship is also given a lot of relevance because this is what will lead to invention of appropriate and better production methods through technology and there will also be competitiveness which will enhance the suitability of the products in the market.
The protestant ethic produced a calling to all the workers to be self made and not to expect any favours from the rich and the wealthy. They are supposed to pursue their own best interests in the performance of their duties. They should offer their services where they feel they are getting the best rewards (Hart, 1999). This was as opposed to the communist ideas of Karl Marx that there was need for the governments to redistribute wealth to enhance equity. As Weber explained all of us are equally endowed in good health and what was required was for each one of us to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge that are required in the industry. This will guarantee employment and each one will become a self made man. One should seek to be the best in his field of specialization to achieve the best rewards of higher pay and other fringe benefits. Therefore he exemplified the notion that a person’s career should be the ultimate focus of human existence (Fischer, 2009). This is because due to availability of equally gifted individuals who are outdoing each other in the market for their services, there will be competition. This competition is what will lead to the emergence of the hard worker who will be in great demand.
It is these ideals of Weber that have been implemented in the major economies of the United States, Great Britain and many European countries today. The ideals that have elevated them to their current levels is their insistence on productivity and also efficiency in the allocation of the factors of production (Carter, 1999). This is illustrated by their installation of modern machines and equipment in the work place to enhance optimal production levels. The owners of these industries aim at one main thing which is profit maximization. They clearly see capitalism as the means for economic empowerment and democracy as the political system that should be in place to ensure the success of these capitalistic ideals. Therefore capitalism advocates for the private ownership of property and the role of the government is to offer protection and security to businesses. This is as opposed to the Marxism that advocates for the governments ownership of all properties and ensuring equal subdivision to all citizens regardless of ones effort (Kenneth, 2007). The protestant ethic has also made the capitalistic countries to embrace rationality in their decision making. These countries are emphasizing the need for the study of science oriented courses in their institutions of higher learning because this will ensure the advancement of the technology which is crucial to the production processes. The capitalistic states also in effecting the protestant ethic, have embraced the division of labour because they acknowledge that human beings are gifted differently (Ryan, 2004) and they can only realize their full potential through specializing in the area one is gifted in. However Durkheim recognizes the fact that the pursuit of self interest should not be the main driving force to achieve ones wants. He showed that the continued self aggrandisement can lead to other social ills like people committing suicide due having low levels of faith and continued isolation from others in pursuit of ego.
The protestant ethic is also evident in government organizations who are also adopting policies of best practice to make sure the revenues they get are optimally utilised in the provision of services to the citizens. Their role in redistributing wealth is in the provision of social needs like schools, hospitals, roads and telecommunications (Cragun, 2000). Majority have adopted cost sharing programmes where every citizen must contribute to access most of these services either directly or indirectly. Therefore the ethic is seen where one must ensure he is competitively engaged so as to earn an income that will guarantee access to these services. They will also meet other obligations like living in good houses, accessing quality health services, and quality education.
The protestant ethic is very evident in our society today. Most of the nations who adopted it like the USA are today super powers. The emerging world economies especially in Asia and Africa are adopting capitalistic ideals mainly because it promises higher returns and one becomes his own manager. The government’s role is usually minimal because it only sets the regulations to be followed and provides security. This is very ideal to the society because it enhances equity and rewards talents. This is as opposed to the communist ideas of Marx that failed to acknowledge the individual effort. However as more and more governments adopt and implement capitalism, there is need to come up with solid regulations that will ensure that competition in the market place is fair. This is due to the already established businesses adopting protective and monopolistic tendencies.
Carter, S (1999) Social Inequality. London. Crown Publishers, P.12
Cragun, D(2000) Theories of Social Change. Berlin. Hewitt Books, P.54
Fischer, A (2009) Sociology of Knowledge. Frankfurt. Lehmann Publishing House, P.8
Hart, D (1999) Ideals of Max Weber. Cologne. Recart Books, P.60
Jacob, W (2004) Sociology of Education. New York. International Publishers, P.4
Kenneth, A (2007) Foundations of Sociology. Dublin. Pewin Books, P.32
Ryan, T (2004) Social Change. Hamburg. Verlag Publishers Ltd, P.75
Stephen, M (2003) Comparative Sociology. Montreal. Queens University Press, P.62
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