The Little Commonwealth: The Family as Matrix of Markets and Morality in Early Protestantism
“The Little Commonwealth: The Family as Matrix of Markets and Morality in Early Protestantism,” in Ted A. Smith and Robert P. Jones, eds., Markets and Morality: Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality (with Justin Latterell), 2018
19 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018 Last revised: 19 Jul 2019
Date Written: 2018
Max Weber traced the rise of the modern economy back to the convergence of new Protestant teachings on vocation, predestination, and asceticism. It was especially the marital household, this Article argues, that served as an incubator of these Protestant teachings and a laboratory for their application to economic activity. The early modern Protestant family was structured and schooled to cultivate the critical habits of discipline and organization in the economic lives of its members. Early modern Protestant catechisms and household manuals set out in detail the moral and religious rules, rights, and responsibilities that husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants had to each other and to their neighbors in different stages of life. It is here, in the elementary ethics and intimate experiences of the Protestant household, that many of the basic norms and habits of modern economic life were slowly instilled and cultivated in each new generation. This chapter offers case studies of Heinrich Bullinger, Robert Cleaver, William Perkins, and Richard Baxter to illustrate how the early modern Protestant family was structured to support church, state, society, and economy alike.
Keywords: Max Weber; Martin Luther; John Calvin; vocation; predestination; asceticism; work; iron cage; Richard Baxter; Heinrich Bullinger; Robert Cleaver; William Perkins; family; economics; household manuals; husband and wife; parent and child; master and servant; slavery; natural rights and duties
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