Max Weber. Il capitalismo

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Max Weber. Capitalism

Cecilia Manzo, Luigi Burroni, Gemma Scalise

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


[Autom. eng. transl.] Weber's contribution, and in particular his studies on the origins of capitalism, have been of fundamental importance for the subsequent development of economic sociology. The definition that Weber gives to capitalism is the result of a long process of analysis that can be reconstructed through many of his writings. This research path has led the author to formulate a real typology of models of capitalism, which represents the different organized forms of "enterprise" and of acquisitive orientation. According to Weber, in fact, "there is capitalism where the coverage of the needs of a human group - according to the modality of an acquisitive economy - takes place through enterprise, no matter what the need is" (Weber 1923, trad. It. 1993 , p. 243). In particular, Weber identifies three models of capitalism in which these different orientations to economic action are included: it is political capitalism, traditional commercial capitalism and rational capitalism (Swedberg 1998). The first two types of capitalism are those that Weber already places in ancient times, and that are found in different civilizations, while rational capitalism is a "modern" orientation that develops in the Western context. The first type of capitalism, the political one, emerges according to Weber's definition when it is the political sphere that opens up spaces for economic activity. It is a capitalism that takes shape through political forces and has only an indirect economic character. In this case, therefore, the opportunity for the acquisition of profit is held by groups or individual political actors, or individuals oriented to act politically, in whose hands politically guaranteed power is held. Weber identifies several sub-types, such as adventure capitalism, oriented towards violent acquisition and predatory action - think of the profit obtained through colonial rule - or that based on forms of political authority. This type of capitalism is characterized by a rationality that is not functional with respect to market regulation and can also be an obstacle to economic development.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Max Weber. Capitalism
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationFondamenti di Sociologia Economica
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Max Weber


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