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By John R. Love

This formidable ebook addresses questions relating an outdated subject - the increase and fall of historical civilization - yet does so from a particular theoretical standpoint via taking its lead from the paintings of the good German sociologist Max Weber.

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Extra info for Antiquity and Capitalism: Max Weber and the Sociological Foundations of Roman Civilization

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On the other hand, large-scale capitalist enterprises based on free labour and similar to modern capitalist enterprises were not a regular feature of private economic activity, neither in agriculture nor elsewhere. When large enterprises employing only free labour on a regular basis did arise, these were always state concerns. Speaking generally, Weber appears to conclude that a type of market economy existed which, while not corresponding exactly with the modern variant, was nonetheless capitalist in an adequate sense of the term.

Is precisely intended to indicate that the course and tempo of development was not at all in the direction of capitalism. Of course, Weber’s general argument is concerned with the causes of stagnation and decline, so it makes sense that he emphasizes, and perhaps exaggerates, the non-capitalistic, nonprogressive side. However, it must be said that the perspective of the essay seems somewhat at odds with that of the earlier work discussed above. It is not the emergence of private property and a burgeoning capitalism that is registered and discussed; rather, the central institution remains the oikos, and a natural economy is deemed to persist despite superficial indications of more advanced forms.

Whereas earlier Weber Max weber and the theory of ancient capitalism 33 had operated primarily as an historian, with sociology merely as an auxiliary discipline, after The Protestant Ethic, The Agrarian Sociology (2nd edn 1909), and his early methodological essays, works which are in a way transitional, Weber embarks on a massive new project of comparative sociological analysis. The central task is now to comprehend and evaluate the various historical processes of rationalization and their vicissitudes in the context of universal history.

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