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The Incarnation of Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in Post-Colonial Sub-Saharan African Economic Discourse: The Quest for an African Economic Ethic

Munyaradzi Felix Murove

Published: 2005/06/01

Abstract

Max Weber's thesis that there was an early connection between the Protestant ethic and the ascendance of Western capitalism has been integral to contemporary scholarly efforts to explain why capitalism has failed in Africa while succeeding in the Western world. The failure of Western capitalistic development in post-colonial Africa is construed as evidence of the absence of the spirit of capitalism. The argument of this article is that African traditional religion and ethics are incompatible with the spirit of capitalism, and that it would be fallacious to expect the spirit of capitalism to incarnate in all social contexts when opposed by the values of that particular society. Contemporary attempts by African scholars to devise a modified system of economic philosophy that would incorporate traditional African indigenous values are aimed at making capitalism contextually relevant to African cultural realities.