a1 University of California, San Diego
A summary and reinterpretation of Weber's Sociology of Religion and The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism provides the framework within which four contemporary studies in political culture, which purport to be in the Weberian tradition, are examined. The framework distinguishes three levels of analysis in which “religion,” as a social fact, can be defined. The social, economic, or political consequences that can be attributed to religious adherence are different depending on the doctrine of the charismatic founder, the practical religion, or the practical religion of the converted. The author suggests a new, perhaps more fruitful agenda for research based on the methodological arguments of the paper.
David D. Laitin, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, is the author of Politics, Language, and Thought: The Somali Experience (1977). He is at present studying the political ramifications of religious change in Nigeria.
* The author would like to thank Shela Lesniak for research assistance. Ernst Haas, Aristide Zolberg, Peter Cowhey, Samuel Popkin, Sanford Lakoff, and Daniel Levine read earlier drafts of this essay and made valuable comments.