9. Elective Affinities and liaisons dangereuses. Luther’s Heritage and the New Spirit of Capitalism

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Debora Spini

Abstract

The role of the Protestant Reformation in promoting the spirit of capitalism has been a crucial theme in sociological and philosophical debates for more than a century. This paper will consider whether these “elective affinities” still exist, in a context marked by profound transformations of both capitalism and Protestantism: in particular, the notion of Beruf seems hardly compatible with the current economic transformations The chapter will analyse, relying on the critical perspectives of authors such as Boltanski and Chiapello as well as Honneth, how the “new spirit of Capitalism” is successfully re-appropriating other important aspects of the heritage of the Protestant Reformation, primarily the notion of individual autonomy.

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