In the social sciences field, similar to Karl Polanyni’s, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, Max Weber’s, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, is considered a seminal work and “still remains one of the most influential and widely read works in social science”. Weber using both empirical research and theoretical musings lays out the argument of the relationship between ascetic Protestantism and the spirit of modern capitalism.
The book itself has an introduction and five chapters. The first three chapters make up what Weber calls “The Problem.” The first chapter addresses “Religious Affiliation and Social Stratification,” the second “The Spirit of Capitalism,” and the third “Luther’s Conception of the Calling and the Task of the Investigation.” The fourth and fifth chapters make up “The Practical Ethics of the Ascetic Branches of Protestantism.” The fourth chapter is about “The Religious Foundations of Worldly Asceticism,” and the fifth chapter is about “Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism.
On the surface, Polanyni and Weber seem to disagree on “what” brought about this new way of framing life called capitalism. While tracing the historical roots of the modern day economic system known as the free market, Polanyni sets out to discover the trends within human institutions that enabled the self-regulating free market system to come into existence. His thesis is, “the idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia” created by economic liberalism through the creation of false commodities of land, labor, and money, which in turn created a system outside of societal control which was the norm. Weber, on the other hand, focuses on the spiritual leverage (theology doctrines) of ascetic Protestantism, particular Calvinism, that produced the framework of calling and signs of salvation which fed into the spirit of capitalism. Where the two intersect is at the point of profit, both see that the idea of profit as the driving force in the ethos of this economic shift away from relational equity.
As I continue to explore relational leadership, it is interesting to see how money continues to play a significant role in defining who culture demands as successful or in the church world as anointed by God. Looking at the business market, Millennials have been deemed the entrepreneur generation moreover, with the boom of the internet and social media, voices such as Gary Vee are their modern day prophets. In the church world, the influence of the Prosperity Gospel and the notions of God’s blessing (in particularly material items) while being condemned still, have mass influence. What does this have to do with relational leadership, it all seems to revolve around the displacement in the understanding of personhood.
Personhood from a biblical perspective is understood “within the context of a life lived in relationship with God, in community with others and as part of creation.” When we lose our true self or personhood by uplifting profit or capitalism above God, the other or creation, everything including leadership becomes a commodity. David Lyon in his book Jesus in Disneyland notes, “is in the commodification of everyday life and the impact of mass consumer cultures, facilitated by the CITs, that the impacts on faith and practice are felt most deeply. As leaders, we must begin to deregulate the spirit of capitalism and submit back to the Spirit of God as we live for calling and not via commodification.
 Gorski, Philip S. Social Forces 82, no. 2 (2003): 833. http://www.jstor.org.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/stable/3598212.
 Karl Polanyi, Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001), Accessed January 22, 2019, ProQuest Ebook Central, 4.
 Weber, Max. Protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. Florence: Routledge, 2001. Accessed February 13, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central. 108-125.
 Karl Polanyi, Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 45-58. See also, Weber, Protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus, 2.
 Asghar, Rob. “Study: Millennials Are The True Entrepreneur Generation.” Forbes. Last modified November 12, 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/11/11/study-millennials-are-the-true-entrepreneur-generation/#530757ab73dc.
 “Prosperity Theology.” Wikipedia. Last modified January 30, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology.
 M. Robert Mulholland Jr., The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006). See chapters 2 footnote 1.
 Lyon, David. Jesus in Disneyland. Wiley. Kindle Edition. Location 148.