This article is built on a close reading of the use of the term 'calculation' by Max Weber. On the basis of this reading, I argue for a deeper understanding of Weber's views on uncertainty in the Calvinist ethos, and for a new approach to some key issues in the moral and discursive world of financial capital today, in which accounting, accountability and profit-making have become dangerously delinked from one another.
This note revisits Weber (especially his General Economic History) and Knight on risk and calculation, while adding commentary based on some other authors, notably Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Some recent ethnographies of finance are considered, as well as popular literature on making money. The future is unknowable, but modern societies train their members to expect to pin down future time. Precise calculation of future outcomes is a chimera, one of the principal causes of the recent financial collapse. Reasoning works best backwards as rationalization and this is scientific method. Extrapolation from the past to the future is where it all breaks down.
On the Generosity of Ritual
The thought experiment ‘ritual in its own right’ implies a suspension of dominant interpretive paradigms in anthropological research. This essay begins by juxtaposing the foundational accounts of Weber and Geertz—both of whom associate ritual with the quest for meaning in suffering—with the phenomenological account of Emmanuel Levinas, who argues that suffering is inherently “useless” and therefore resistant to meaning’s claim. All three theorists are then juxtaposed with the Warsaw ghetto writings of a twentieth-century Jewish mystic, Kalonymos Shapira, whose work exemplifies the tension between meaningful and useless suffering in a real social setting. Shapira’s work bears comparison with Levinas’s, and lends support to the idea that our preoccupation with meaning may stem from a particular religious genealogy of social theory. Ritual can be analyzed as a ground of intersubjectivity or transcendence rather than meaning, which makes it more akin to medicine, in Levinas’s terms, than to theodicy.
Faith on the Neo-liberal Frontier
What, if anything, is distinctive about the Pentecostal revival that is currently palpable in many parts of the world? How might such revitalization be related to larger transformations in economy and society, and to enduring Weberian questions about the spirit of capitalism? Drawing largely on material from the US and Africa, this article explores three dimensions of contemporary theologico-politics—the sociological, the ontological, and the cultural—to examine the ways in which current religious emphasis on realism and rapture in many quarters might differ from apocalypse past, and how theocratic tendencies might be linked to shifts in the nature of the state, the shape of the secular, and the axioms of liberal humanism. How have the mass media played into this, and why are they such uncannily apt vehicles for a late-modern culture of the miraculous?
Charisma and Clothes in Tibetan Buddhism Today
Magdalena Maria Turek
point of departure in many discussions of sainthood and charisma in Buddhist contexts has been an analysis of the original concept of ‘charisma’ as conceived by Max Weber ( 1980: 654) . Thus, Ray (1994: 422–423) critiques Weber for his
an accounting perspective
A feature of globalisation is encouragement of universities to become more businesslike, including adoption of the type of accounting routines and regulations used by businesses. The question debated in higher education policy research is whether this focus on being businesslike is compatible with the statutory public benefit obligations of universities. This question is addressed from a financial-management perspective, drawing on Max Weber's discussion of the effects of accounting in business, governmental and not-for-profit organisations. 1 His approach is applied to three ideal-typical universities, focussing on differences in legal terms of reference and sources of funding. The article argues that the proposed reforms of public-sector accounting will make it difficult (if not impossible) to ascertain whether the publicbenefit aims of not-for-profit universities have been achieved. In addition, once installed, the business systems of accounting will encourage pecuniary rationality at the expense of the traditional value rationalities that ought to govern resource allocation in public-benefit organisations. The interaction between these effects introduces new risks, including the possibility that the controllers of universities may fail in their fiduciary obligations by wasting scarce resources on projects that, according to financial measures, appear profitable while neglecting those that have important public benefit and educational merit.
One Hundred Years of Anthropology of Religion
Ramon Sarró, Simon Coleman, and Ruy Llera Blanes
One could say that in 2012 the scientific study of religion, particularly in its anthropological form, has become one hundred years old. In 1912, Durkheim published The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, perhaps the most influential book in the social study of religion, and certainly in the anthropology of religion, of the entire twentieth century. But this was not the only seminal work published around a century ago. A little earlier than that, in 1909, Arnold van Gennep’s Les rites de passage inaugurated an interest in liminality and ritual that has accompanied our discipline ever since. That same year, Marcel Mauss wrote La prière, an unfinished thesis that started an equally unfinished interest in prayer, one of the central devotional practices in many religions across the globe. In 1910, Lévy-Bruhl published his first explicitly anthropological book, How Natives Think, a problematic ancestor of a debate about rationality and modes of thought that has accompanied anthropology and philosophy ever since. In 1913, Freud tackled the then fashionable topic of totemism in his Totem and Taboo. Around those early years of the century, too, Max Weber was starting to write about charisma, secularization, and rationalization, topics of enduring interest.
Leonidas Sotiropoulos and
permeates with something more than mere rationality. If we stand by Max Weber’s view (1946; Colliot-Thélène 1990) that we are gradually moving with modernity into a disenchanted world, void of significance and holding no special meaning for us, we could say
Life . New York : Other Press . Steiner , Philippe . 2009 . “ Who Is Right about the Modern Economy: Polanyi, Zelizer, or Both? ” Theory and Society 38 ( 1 ): 97 – 110 . Weber , Max . 1991 . From Max Weber . Ed. Bryan S. Turner . London
places. The tundra has become a center of religious life and an authentic source of Christianity. Notes 1 The discussion of the role of Protestant Christianity in the economic realm, particularly in fostering capitalism, goes back to Max Weber. And