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elective affinity


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A term used by Max Weber to describe the relationship between Protestantism and capitalism (in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1905). It refers to the resonance or coherence between aspects of the teachings of Protestantism and the ethos of the capitalist enterprise: the contents of one system of meaning engender a tendency for adherents to build and pursue the other system of meaning. The actors concerned may not be consciously aware of this affinity. The concept has remained firmly tied to Weber's work although it has been used loosely by other sociologists, often in situations where it seems likely that there is an association or connection between systems of belief operating in different spheres of life. (see R. H. Howe, ‘Max Weber's Elective Affinities’, American Journal of Sociology, 1978). See also protestant ethic thesis.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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