Talk:Protestant work ethic

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nature of the article[edit]


Much of the conflict on the PE discussion page seems rooted in attempts at defining and explaining the alleged phenomenon as a thing in itself rather than historical jargon. Consider for inclusion: origin, connotations of the term with examples, generalizations and contextualization of application (in literature and theory, as taught in US schools, etc.); historical influence of the concept. If this approach proves too difficult to implement (edit wars etc.), perhaps we should flag it as in need of expert (historian/educator) attention? Bleedingcherub 06:47, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

potential bias of article/term[edit]

Why is this article titled "Protestant work ethic." Isn't simply Protestant ethic the more common name? - SimonP 20:47, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

I've always heard it referred to as the Protestant work ethic, but apparently a Google search for "Protestant ethic" returns more than double the results of "Protestant work ethic", and almost all of them are relevant. If nobody objects, it might be a good idea to move soon. Johnleemk | Talk 14:11, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

This article suggests that unless you are protestant, there is a "more relaxed attitude towards work". It is inaccurate to oppose protestant work ethic and non-protestant work ethic. Protestant ethic should be defined, and working hard was part of it, but suggesting that this was unique to protestant ethic is not accurate. Take a look at Teachings of Opus Dei for instance. Many of the world's great power (such as France and Austria-Hungary) were predominantly catholic. This article should be redrafted to describe protestant work ethic and refrain from contrasting it with the rest of the world Sprotch 09:55, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

I strongly agree with the sentiments below that this article is in need of major revision (although some of the following comments strike me as little more than bickering). I do think the Biblical references in it are valuable, and generlaly valid - if a bit discursive. I have written extensively on the "Protestant ethic." The "Protestant work ethic" is a subset of the P.E. and should be a major heading not the title of this article (or a separate article with a disambiguation page). The concept of the Protestant ethic incorporates not only the work ethic but also is defined by rational asceticism, individualism, need for achieved status, and fear of leisure. All of these need to be addressed under major headings. Also, there is a general need to discuss the roles of Luther, Calvin, Puritanism, and Benjamin Franklin in the development of this ethic. I'm not certain I can change the title of a Wikipedia article, and am therfore reluctant to make the extensive revisions necessary to improve the article at this point. I am open to advice and assistance. soverman 14:55 21 Aug 2005

Ludicrous. Probably the silliest thing ever entered into Wikipedia.

-- 03:26, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I don't think it's ludicrous. We learned about this in school. I do think the article is a bit bogus though. It doesn't mention anything about Calvin, for instance. Do a search for "protestant work ethic calvin" and you'll see what I mean.
Shane 08:38, 2005 Feb 23 (UTC)
It is not a joke. I learned about the "puritan work ethic" sometime in my childhood here in the U.S. It was either from my family or from school.

Since Protestant work ethic is generally considered an American ideal, I will swap the British English spellings with American English spellings. This is in keeping with Wikipedia's style conventions.

FFS. At what point did the Protestant Work Ethic get annexed by the Yanks. Do you people have no shame? --Tagishsimon (talk)

Funny, my girlfriend (English) had never heard of it - I found this page to educate her. I (American) learned about it in school.
Shane 08:38, 2005 Feb 23 (UTC)

What about the concept of work ethic in general? I enter "work ethic" in the search box and I'm redirected to this rather esoteric article that's not really of interest to me.

There's no discussion of the disputes surrounding this sociological argument in the article. Plenty of sociologists don't agree with this explanation of American prosperity, but there's no mention of this in the article. Rhesusman 20:53, 14 June 2005

The article is a corrective to the assumptions that work ethic simply connotes working all the hours that God sends and that people achieve moral superiority by working harder than others.--shtove 16:18, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Arguably opposed to the Catholic attitude that "money is the root of all evil"; the Protestant attitude is to implore Protestants that their problems stem from being a lazy slob. Ergo "get to work, and the harder you work the less likely that you will starve to death!" (talk) 17:28, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

organization of discussion page[edit]

I have structured this page for clarity in perusing the extensive yet informal discussion taking place. I have tried to use headings reflecting the primary topic of inquiry of each subsection with respect to the authors' perspectives; if anyone feels there is bias in these nominations please make it known. Bleedingcherub 06:54, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Maybe it's a Germanic Work Ethic. That explains the Bavarians. It must be in the Germanic culture to make lots of money. Compare Vikings running around stealing as much valuables as they can from less materialistic Celtic monks.

Perhaps, but bear in mind the economic success of the Republic of Ireland. Whether this is due to a Celtic Ethic or simply because the EU keep flinging money at them is another matter, of course. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:18, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

IMHO Article needs refocus[edit]

I admire all the effort and erudition that any Wikipedia article requires--witness the discussions. But this article seems to need a fresh perspective.

My interest, and presumably that of many others arriving here, is to find out what the Protestant Work Ethic is: its history, what it meant to those involved, and perhaps how it compares with spiritual practices elsewhere (eg kama yoga).

This need seems to have been observed in the discussion [which seems to have been poorly edited because some entries seem to originate from different people] yet the text of the article remains off this course. The article's primary focus seems to be whether or not the Protestant Work Ethic truly results in an increased GDP!

Perhaps there is an interest in such sociological matters and perhaps there might be a section devoted to this. But if there is to be a section, should it not be supported by more serious research? The article seems to contain no more than personal musings on whether Catholics are less, equally, or perhaps more productive than Protestants. It's an interesting dinner conversation but not Wikipedia material yet. [Later correction: I have now become more aware of Weber's work in searching for a link between religion as a foundation for a capitalist society. However, clearly Weber's work was neither conclusive nor--as I've suggested--of sole interest. It's worth a paragraph at best and arguing the merits of his case here tilts the article off-balance]

-- (talk) 14:24, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Warm/Cold Climate theory=[edit]

I believe that some have also compared this to relation climate has on work ethic. Cold climate peoples tend to work harder than warm climate people. Some might think of it a being controversial. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


As it is, the article seems unbalanced. The criticism section domains, while the rest hardly fleshes out the concept. It certainly needs work. (talk) 00:35, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

I agree that it is unbalanced. Besides the criticisms noted above, the general tone of the article seems to be negative towards the concept of "protestant work ethic." I also question pigeon-holing the concept as merely a sociological one without giving any due to the theology behind it.

Is comparison with non-Christian countries relevant here?[edit]

The descriptions of the PWE in the lead and history sections seem to imply that the heart of the concept is that Protestant culture/theology produced a different work ethic to that of Catholic societies.

As such, is it really relevant to critizise the concept on the grounds that non-Christian countries also became prosperous?

As far as my limited knowledge of the concept goes, I thought the essence was "Protestants are more workaholic than Catholics", not "Protestants are more workaholic than Catholics, Hindus, Pagans, Atheists, etc".

Shouldn't the criticism be limited to "But Catholic countries A B and C were also prosperous, while Protestant countries X Y and Z were not"? (With apprpriate citations for someone making those arguments, otherwise its OR). Wardog (talk) 13:23, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Rewrite to avoid original research[edit]

It seems to me that most of this article is original research, which is not allowed by Wikipedia. I agree that more needs to be added to link in with Weber. Also, I'm fairly sure that Rousseau suggested the concept way before Weber did, although he didn't expand on it. Does anybody feel like doing a major rewrite, and is anybody against it?

Spigot007 (talk) 17:29, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Totally agree that the article needs a rewrite. Right now, it is very thin on historical facts, shows a bias and, as you mentioned, seems to rely on original research. Surv1v4l1st (Talk|Contribs) 16:12, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

this is a Cut and Paste of one Biased Source[edit]

This article must be changed. As it stands it is simply a cut and past of part of the article about the book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber and as such is single source, horribly biased, and inaccurate in it’s definition of the Protestant Work Ethic while completely ignoring the deep historical roots and original meaning behind the phrase . sorry, I’m new to this, how do we change this ? WJLeep (talk) 18:17, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Sources for further article development[edit]

(unless otherwise noted the following source links have been submitted by drs (talk) 15:22, 17 February 2012 (UTC) )

also: Becker, Sascha O. and Woessmann, Ludger, Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History (May 2007). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 1987; IZA Discussion Paper No. 2886. Available at SSRN:

Helpful References needing proper citations[edit]

  • Protestant Work Ethic Endorsement and Social Justice Values in Developing and Developed Societies: Comparing Jamaica and New Zealand by Rosemary Frey, University of Technology, Jamaica and Lawrence Alfred Powell, University of the West Indies-Mona,

American Gothic[edit]

What does this have to do, at all, with the article? It isn't explained anywhere. - LordSchmee (too lazy to log in) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

It seems like the only reference to the Protestant Work Ethic on the page for American Gothic is just a direct link to this page. Nothing in the context of the article seems to suggest they are related (though maybe a connection was made in a past edit). Systemchalk (talk) 00:28, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

Schumpeter Reference[edit]

The article claims "The economist Joseph Schumpeter argues that capitalism began in Italy in the 14th century, not in the Protestant areas of Europe." but the reference is simply to a general encyclopedia entry on Schumpeter himself without any reference to his views on the origins of capitalism (I checked both the 1st and 2nd edition of these entries). It is possible he made this claim, but the existing reference does not provide any evidence for this. Systemchalk (talk) 00:35, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

@Systemchalk: - Good point. I'm trying to see if this argument exists in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942) DutchTreat (talk) 18:12, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I found the reference in Schumpeter, Joseph A., "Part II From the Beginning to the First Classical Situation (to about 1790), chapter 2 The scholastic Doctors and the Philosophers of Natural Law", History of Economic Analysis, pp. 74–75, ISBN 0-415-10888-8, OCLC 269819 . In the footnote, Schumpeter refers to Usher, Abbott Payson (1943). The Early History of Deposit Banking in Mediterranean Europe.  and de Roover, R. (December 1942), "Money, Banking, and Credit in Medieval Bruges", Journal of Economic History, Supplement  - DutchTreat (talk) 14:40, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

the term refers to a class analysis. this is nowhere in the article.[edit]

an article on the "protestant work ethic" should not debate if it exists or not, but explore the claim that it has been used by the ruling classes as a brainwashing tool to maximize productivity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:01, 27 October 2016 (UTC)


The article lead currently strongly implies that Anglicanism isn't a Protestant religion, which would be a surprise to both Anglicans and Catholics, particularly to those Anglicans who were burnt alive by Bloody Mary. It is also implied that the only "real" English Protestants were the tiny number of fanatical separatist Puritans who sailed to America in the seventeenth century. Is this garbage really taught in American schools? --Ef80 (talk) 13:58, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Can you be more specific?Ernio48 (talk) 22:06, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Lead, paragraph 3. --Ef80 (talk) 13:40, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
Feel free to edit this. The claim about the Protestant ethic and Anglicanism needs to be confirmed, discussed and properly sourced.
Very little in the lead is properly sourced at present. --Ef80 (talk) 21:53, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, but unlike this sentence about Anglicanism, others are not that controversial.Ernio48 (talk) 22:40, 18 March 2017 (UTC)