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Ethical Systems and Economic Development

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image of Asian Journal of Social Science

The possible role of ethical systems in accounting for the wide economic and social gap betweeri developed and underdeveloped countries is examined in the light of the Weberian thesis on the relationship between the Protestant Ethic, capitalism and economic development. Materials from various cultures seem to support Weber, but suggest that the crucial factor in economic development is not necessarily THE PROTESTANT ETHIC, but any ethical system which produces the following results: rational attitudes toward experiences, personal responsibility, a disciplined work force, and worldly asceticism. An ethic which encourages underconsumption and deferred gratification and which creates social motivations and legitimization for worldly work and economic enterprise seems to facilitate economic development in the takeoff period.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology The Ohio State University


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