A Sociology of Industrialisation: an introduction by David Brown, Michael J. Harrison (auth.)

By David Brown, Michael J. Harrison (auth.)

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Weber sees the condemnation of usury as areaction by the Church to a condition in which commercial transactions are fairly well advanced. Weber summarises this antagonism between traditionalism and the notions of absolute rationality of the Church and the innovative rationality of economic calculation in the following way: ' ... every economic rationalisation of a barter economy has a weakening effect on the traditions which support the authority of the sacred law' (1968, p. 584). The reason for this rests upon the very impersonality of economic rationalisation.

Before undertaking such a task it is we11 to stress the uniqueness of the English experience; precisely because England was the first nation to industrialise there are obvious limits to which the path to industrialisation fo11owed by England can be taken as a model for industrialisation elsewhere. The historian Harold Perkin puts the problem most cogently: I t is easy to see, once the pattern and potentialities of industrialism had been exemplified in one tremendously successful case, why underdeveloped societies should seek development, and how industrial revolutions in Western Europe, America, Japan and Russia could be motivated by envy and engineered by imitation.

83). A consequence of this was that the observation of the material and natural world, in the scientific sense of measurement, control and calculation, was unimportant, interpretation and search for 'mystic meanings' were the crucial activities. To continue with Bloch's analysis, 'This attitude explains, in part, the inadequacy of men's knowledge of nature which, after all, was not regarded as greatly deserving of attention. Technical progress - sometimes considerable - was mere empiricism' (p.

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