Collins, Randall. 1980. "Weber's Last Theoryof Capitalism: A Systemitization." American Sociological Review 45:925-942.


Capitalism is the provision of human needs by the method of enterprise, by private businesses seeking profit. It is exchange for positive gain. Modern capitalism is the rational permanent enterprise characterized by rational capital accounting.

To achieve rationalized capitalism there must be:

* private appropriation of all the means of production

* technology which is reduced to calculation to the largest possible degree

* labor must be free to move

* trading must not be restricted by irrational restrictions

* calculable law, but in adjudication and in public administration

Weber sees the key economic characteristic of mechanization is that it is feasible only with mass production. Thus mechanization will only occur as the factors above are realized.

 

The Causal Chain

The social pre-conditions for large scale capitalism waas the destruction of of the obstacles to free movement of labor, land, and goods. Others were the creation of institutional systems for property, law, and finance.

In premodern societies there was a ethical dualism in trade - fairness to insiders, opportunism to outsiders. Both limited the spread of capitalism.

The growth of bureaucracy was also an important element for the creation of rational capitalism. It is that state that broke down fuedalism and patrimonialism. It was possible through the availability of literate administrators, technology of long distance transportation and communication, writing and record-keeping materials, monetary coinage.

Bureaucratization is fundamentally based on citizenship. Also religion broke down barriers among clans and tribes. It also provided literate clergy and a bureaucratic organization that others could emulate. Protestantism was most profound because it made religion more secular and promoted work and entrepreneurism.