Max Weber’s Sociological Concept of Business Legitimacy

  • Øjvind LarsenEmail author
Living reference work entry


In his famous book The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber presented the idea that it was the Protestant reformations and what followed that gave the basis for the creation and expansion of capitalism in Europe and later on in the whole world. However, in his less known Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, collected treatises on the Sociology of Religion, Weber has also described how other significant world religions like Hinduism and Confucianism hindered the creation of capitalism in India and China although these countries had better productive, technological, political, and cultural preconditions for a capitalist change of the material reproduction of society.

Weber’s theory has not only a historical value. Weber’s Sociology of Religion has also an actuality for the twenty-first century understanding of the relations between politics, religion, economy, and society in a global context. Weber’s theory can explain why a special form of imperial state-dominated capitalism could develop in China – and not a liberal form like in the Western world. In the same way, Weber’s theory can explain why the Hindu caste system can continue to be a hindrance for the full development of a Western liberal form of capitalism in India.


Spirit of capitalism Protestant ethics Rationalization Disenchantment Legitimization Tradition Legitimate order Theodicy problem Calvinistic work ethics Modern economic man 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark

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