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Robert M. Bosco

The study of religion and development focuses on how the moral and ethical resources of the world’s major faith traditions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism might tame the worst excesses of market civilization. Whereas states, corporations, and international development institutions often define “development” as economic growth and all of the adjustments required to achieve it, religious approaches consider the consequences of this conception of development and recommend that the achievement of material gain be tempered by compassion, conscience, a greater concern for social equity, and a responsible application of science and technology to both the social and natural worlds. The origins of the field of religion and development can be traced back to Max Weber's seminal investigations into the elective affinities between Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism. In the 1980s, the majority of scholarly literature grappled with the meaning and significance of Weber’s basic ideas in various contexts and locales as scholars examined whether, when, and how religious traditions enhance or inhibit development at the international, regional, national, or community levels of analysis. After a period of hibernation, the study of religion and development was reenergized in the late 1990s as religious leaders and faith-based organizations played a central role in challenging the policies and practices of international development institutions, especially the World Bank.


Robbie Shilliam

Modernity is defined as a condition of social existence that is significantly different to all past forms of human experience, while modernization refers to the transitional process of moving from “traditional” or “primitive” communities to modern societies. Debates over modernity have been most prominent in the discipline of sociology, created in the nineteenth century specifically to come to terms with “society” as a novel form of human existence. These debates revolved around the constitution of the modern subject: how sociopolitical order is formed in the midst of anomie or alienation of the subject; what form of knowledge production this subject engages in, and what form of knowledge production is appropriate to understand modern subjectivity; and the ethical orientation of the modern subject under conditions where human existence has been rationalized and disenchanted. In its paradoxical search for social content of modern conditions of anomie, alienation, and disenchantment, sociology has relied upon Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber. Sociological inquiry of modernity and the anthropological/comparative study of modernization have provided two articulations of sociopolitical difference—temporal and geocultural, respectively—that have exerted a strong impact upon approaches to and debates within IR. The attempt to correlate and explain the relationship between temporal and geocultural difference presents a foundational challenge to understandings of the condition of modernity and the processes of modernization.