Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Max Weber on the “Spirit of Capitalism” Economic Growth and Development in the Antechamber of the Industrial Revolution

Kurz Heinz, University of Graz

Max Weber died during a pandemic as a result of pneumonia (not connected to the pandemic) on 14 June 1920 at the age of 56. Would he have been given the opportunity to live longer, his oeuvre would in all probability have been even more impressive than it already is. Today the vast majority of economists hardly know Weber’s work. He is widely regarded as a sociologist and historian, but not as an economist.1 However, economics is what economists do, and this is not decided once and for all but changes as time goes by. Some of Weber’s fields of research, at his time genuine parts of the subject, were later moved to the margin, only to re-enter it in more recent times. In many respects, Weber – the “weaver” – was a pioneer, expanding the social sciences into new areas, such as the economics of religion, cultural economics, institutional economics, industrial sociology and economic sociology in general. Today’s contributions to methodology cannot do without reference to Weber. Economic historians are following in his footsteps in his histoire raisonnée of modernity, using novel quantitative and qualitative methods. Growth and development economics have rediscovered the cultural element in shaping the path society takes. In some sections of

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Keywords: Weber, capitalism

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