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McDonalization and the Protestant Ethic

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The model of structuration presented by Anthony Giddens directly applies to Weber’s theory of “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” To start out, the structuration model is in simple terms, a way to describe how society has formed throughout history. It basically says that social structures are bound to change throughout time and that they are neither permanent nor impossible to change. Also, it is neither on a micro or macro level in which this structure is formed. Rather, structuration is in essence a balance theory; social structure influences people and people are capable pf changing the social structure that they live in. This is not done just on the micro level of the individual but also through the macro (society) where the two influence each other over and over until a structure is either abstained or changed. This idea directly relates to Weber’s theory because his theory entails the same sort of basis.

To explain Protestant Ethic theory, it helps to use the model of structuration. First, there was a social structure, the Protestants, and their belief in following God’s “calling.” It was just emerging in their religion that God’s “calling” was not just for vocation reasons. They believed that it was essential to work a job related to the calling that God gave any individual man. If wealth was acquired during this process, then that was a fruit of labor and therefore God’s blessing. This tied into their other view that worldly success was a sign of them being “saved.” This gave them a reason for everyone to have jobs that prospered them and made them good money. The other belief the Protestants had was that of asceticism. They believed it should be in all aspects of life which meant on most important grounds, that continuous and systematic work was essential to them. Also, it meant that wealth gained through work was not to be spent on material goods. This gave birth to the spirit of capitalism because Protestants would work a lot and save their money since they couldn’t spend it. There was nothing else to use this money for that would not be considered material value besides the investment of their capital. This ties right back into structuration because here is a social structure that has a set of rules yet the rules are bent slightly and justified by God’s blessing. With the rules being bent, it set forth a path that most Protestants chose to follow and set the pace for everyone else. Eventually, this “spirit of capitalism” spread and rapidly grew throughout America’s early history. He defines spirit of capitalism as the ideas and habits that favor the rational pursuit of economic gain.

The levels of analysis which most pertain structuration and the Protestant Ethic are on the individual, organization, and society level. For and an individual, it was in their best interest to do what God wanted them to do. Psychologically they were able to justify their obtainment of wealth to the fruit of labor and God’s blessing. It was then seen okay to invest their money because giving all of their excess money to the poor was not seen as helping as helping worldly success. They once again justified the use of their money. In essence, there was a set structure that was slowly changed by people, just as it had been created by people. The organization of Protestants as a whole is also tied into structuration. Their organization had set rules and made it clear what was right and what was wrong. But when the idea of God’s calling was changed, it started a new idea of Protestants working hard. This in turn led to more money and was justified as long as they didn’t spend it on luxuries. With the two smaller parts of the early U.S. covered, it would only be right to apply this idea of structation to the society as a whole. Not everyone was a Protestant. But humans learn from each other and therefore can choose to change and follow others. While other factors than the Protestant Ethic brought about capitalism as it is today, it did have a role. Many people years ago worked but never really had a means to their money. By this I mean most people got money and either spent it or some may have saved it. This was the social structure of the day. But when it was seen how profitable it was to save and invest, it is plausible that this was caught on by the rest of society. Basically, it started with the organization, went to the individuals in that organization, and then was spread to other individuals outside of the organization which connects to all society over time. This is a possible way of how the model of structuration may have applied to the Weber’s essay on “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”

Along with Weber, another famous sociologist, George Ritzer, wrote on the topic of capitalism and certain things that influenced where the USA is today. Ritzer’s book is titled

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