Ottavio Palombaro


Every introduction to sociology textbook summarizes the well-known thesis of Max Weber on the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. These overviews outline Weber’s claim that Calvinist belief in predestination during the 16th and 17th centuries generated a state of anxiety in believers about their salvation. Perceiving economic success as a sign of God’s blessing provided some assurance about their state of election. However, Calvinism in itself and in all its forms never expressed a state of anxiety. What was new in Calvinism was the belief in the perpetual assurance of salvation, a belief that generated a peculiar sense of peace and confidence. This study seeks to open a new window on an issue that has animated generations of scholars and still influences the way we interpret our modern age.



Calvinism, capitalism, Max Weber, Protestantism, work ethic

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