1932

Abstract

This article is about the influence of the work of the German sociologist Max Weber (1864–1920) on English-speaking anthropologists. Although Weber does not figure prominently in the history of anthropology, his work has, nonetheless, had a profound influence on anthropological methodology and theoretical thinking on the relationship between religion and political economy. The “interpretive anthropology” first developed by Geertz has roots in Weber's “interpretive sociology.” Bourdieu's “theory of practice” is also strongly Weberian in character. The anthropological study of religion, and particularly the debate over the foundations of this field between Geertz and Asad, is reconsidered in light of Weber's sociology of religion. His comparative study of the ethics of the world's religions and particularly the “Weber thesis” about the relationship between religion and the development of bourgeois capitalism are shown to have been the foundation for a large body of anthropological research on religion and political economy in societies in which the major world religions have been long established. The essay ends with a suggestion that Weber's work on politics and meaning merits reexamination in light of contemporary anthropological interest, derived from Foucault, in power and knowledge.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.anthro.31.040402.085332
2002-10-01
2024-06-24
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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