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Robinson Crusoe and the Protestant Work Ethic

The explanation in research papers for Robinson Crusoe’s focus on work lies in what Max Weber called the protestant work ethic. Research papers show that the era of Daniel DeFoe (1660-1731) was a formidable time in European history in which Protestantism was firmly established as having shaped society through capitalism and political ties. Max Weber believed that the source of the popularity of capitalism in industrial Europe could be found within the cultural influences of the Western world.  Robinson Crusoe and the Protestant Work EthicWeber focused on the protestant ethic as the source of influence that spread industrial capitalism throughout Europe. Robinson Crusoe is exemplary of what Weber is asserting as the prolific theme of the 17th Century – work hard and God will reward you, i.e. capitalism.

DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe is a tribute to the protestant work ethic. Research papers on Robinson Crusoe show the protestant ethic was centered around “religious asceticism” and the generality that protestant workers were “sober, conscientious, extremely industrious and loyal to their job as their divinely appointed purpose in life.” Along with good workers, Protestantism gave the interests of the individual justification for focusing on personal economic interests through God rewarding the hard worker. And most importantly, Protestants provided justification for the unequal distribution of wealth that capitalism afforded.  Work became known as “a calling” and it was the duty of each Puritan to fulfill his calling within the pursuit of the “Kingdom of Heaven”. The doctrine of predestination was, according to Weber the driving force behind this asceticism. Material success was seen as a sign that God favored the gaining of goods.

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