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The notion of ethnicity as it is currently used is theoretically ambivalent, confusing, indeed self-contradictory, according to Rey Chow. To radically reconceptualize the ways ethnicity functions in capitalist society, Chow proposes that it be analyzed in conjunction with Max Weber's famous theory about the protestant work ethic, especially in terms of the economic and psychological, as well as the religious-spiritual, ramifications of the word "protest." In her reading of the politics of ethnicity, she examines a diverse set of texts, works of Foucault, Weber, Derrida, Balibar, Brontë, Asian-American authors Hongo and Yau; films of Hitchcock, Duras, and Resnais; and the drawings of Hong Kong cartoonist Larry Feign.
The Protestant ethic - a moral code stressing hard work, rigorous self-discipline, and the organization of one's life in the service of God - was made famous by sociologist and political economist Max Weber. In this brilliant study (his best-known and most controversial), he opposes the Marxist concept of dialectical materialism and its view that change takes place through "the struggle of opposites." Instead, he relates the rise of a capitalist economy to the Puritan determination to work out anxiety over salvation or damnation by performing good deeds - an effort that ultimately discouraged belief in predestination and encouraged capitalism. Weber's classic study has long been required reading in college and advanced high school social studies classrooms.
For the first time in 70 years, a new translation of Max Weber's classic The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism --one of the seminal works in sociology-- published in September 2001. Translator Stephen Kalberg is an internationally acclaimed Weberian scholar, and in this new translation he offers a precise and nuanced rendering that captures both Weber's style and the unusual subtlety of his descriptions and causal arguments. Weber's original italicization, highlighting major themes, has been restored, and Kalberg has standardized Weber's terminology to better facilitate understanding of the various twists and turns in his complex lines of reasoning. Weber's compelling work remains influential for these reasons: it explores the continuing debate regarding the origins and legacy of modem capitalism in the West; it helps the reader understand today's global economic development; and it plumbs the deep cultural forces that affect contemporary work life and the workplace in the United States and Europe. This new edition/translation also includes a glossary; Weber's 1906 essay, "The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism"; and Weber's masterful prefatory remarks to his Collected Essays in the Sociology of Religion, in which he defines the uniqueness of Western societies and asks what "ideas and interests" combined to create modem Western rationalism
The Catholic Church has, for generations, been reluctant to come to terms with capitalism. Novak argues that a 100-year debate within the Catholic Church has yielded a richer and more humane vision of capitalism than that described in Weber's Protestant Ethic.
Although the era of European colonialism has long passed, misgivings about the inequality of the encounters between European and non-European languages persist in many parts of the postcolonial world. This unfinished state of affairs, this lingering historical experience of being caught among unequal languages, is the subject of Rey Chow's book. A diverse group of personae, never before assembled in a similar manner, make their appearances in the various chapters: the young mulatto happening upon a photograph about skin color in a popular magazine; the man from Martinique hearing himself named "Negro" in public in France; call center agents in India trained to Americanize their accents while speaking with customers; the Algerian Jewish philosopher reflecting on his relation to the French language; African intellectuals debating the pros and cons of using English for purposes of creative writing; the translator acting by turns as a traitor and as a mourner in the course of cross-cultural exchange; Cantonese-speaking writers of Chinese contemplating the politics of food consumption; radio drama workers straddling the forms of traditional storytelling and mediatized sound broadcast. In these riveting scenes of speaking and writing imbricated with race, pigmentation, and class demarcations, Chow suggests, postcolonial languaging becomes, de facto, an order of biopolitics. The native speaker, the fulcrum figure often accorded a transcendent status, is realigned here as the repository of illusory linguistic origins and unities. By inserting British and post-British Hong Kong (the city where she grew up) into the languaging controversies that tend to be pursued in Francophone (and occasionally Anglophone) deliberations, and by sketching the fraught situations faced by those coping with the specifics of using Chinese while negotiating with English, Chow not only redefines the geopolitical boundaries of postcolonial inquiry but also demonstrates how such inquiry must articulate historical experience to the habits, practices, affects, and imaginaries based in sounds and scripts.
In Jews, Confucians, and Protestants: Cultural Capital and the End of Multiculturalism, Lawrence E. Harrison takes the politically incorrect stand that not all cultures are created equally. Analyzing the performance of 117 countries, grouped by predominant religion, Harrison argues for the superiority of those cultures that emphasize Jewish, Confucian, or Protestant values.
Martin Heidegger once wrote that the world had, in the age of modern science, become a world picture. For Rey Chow, the world has, in the age of atomic bombs, become a world target, to be attacked once it is identified, or so global geopolitics, dominated by the United States since the end of the Second World War, seems repeatedly to confirm. How to articulate the problematics of knowledge production with this aggressive targeting of the world? Chow attempts such an articulation by probing the significance of the chronological proximity of area studies, poststructuralist theory, and comparative literature—fields of inquiry that have each exerted considerable influence but whose mutual implicatedness as postwar U.S. academic phenomena has seldom been theorized. Central to Chow’s discussions is a critique of the predicament of self-referentiality—the compulsive move to interiorize that, in her view, constitutes the collective frenzy of our age—in different contemporary epistemic registers, including the self-consciously avant-garde as well as the militaristic and culturally supremacist. Urging her readers to think beyond the inward-turning focus on EuroAmerica that tends to characterize even the most radical gestures of Western self-deconstruction, Chow envisions much broader intellectual premises for future transcultural work, with reading practices aimed at restoring words and things to their constitutive exteriority.

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