Based on Chapters 1 & 2 from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Adapted from Christina Nadler’s Classical Sociology Class, City University of New York
Role and Audience: This assignment was initially developed when scholars “read” papers at professional conferences. In order to give provide variety in assignments and follow the format for contemporary professional conferences I am going to switch from a paper format to a slide format. Write your slides as if you are a colleague of Weber’s and delivering a speech for him to other sociologists.
Format: This “paper” will be formatted as a twenty slide presentation, including the title slide.
Task: Imagine you are required to make a presentation for Weber after the first publication of The Protestant Ethic to a room full of colleagues at one of the first Annual German Sociological Association Conference. He was too depressed to attend, as he suffered from serious depression (maybe related to his feelings about the world?). You thought he was going to give you a prepared presentation, but all you got was a copy of Chapters 1 & 2 from his book. Feel free to also browse the preface and author’s notes. Prepare a presentation where Weber emphasizes his critique against a ‘naïve historical materialism’ as he does in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Be mindful, there could be Marxists in the room, so you will really want to explain how Weber makes his socio-historical argument and include, with description of each, the three aspects of Protestantism that create the ethic. You may also want to note how the explicitly ‘Protestant’ aspect of this ethic had faded away leaving (depressingly?) just the spirit of Capitalism.
Criteria for Evaluation: You will be graded on accuracy, evidence and quality of examples, as well as a clear understanding of the audience and your role. Your essay (speech) should be focused, and it should be clear how each piece of evidence supports your argument. Spelling will count to the extent you spell important new terms correctly. Many of these terms are from last weeks defining concepts assignment. See the rubric posted below for a more detailed schema of evaluation.