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|Innovated by Max Weber to conceptualize in nondeterministic
fashion the coincident interaction of components from different
sociocultural systems in comparative analysis. The specific case study
that is the quintessential example in Weber's work is The Protestant
Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Scribner 1930 [1904-1905]).
According to Weber, there was an elective affinity between Puritan
ethical norms and emerging capitalist business practices in
seventeenth-century England; later theorists have extended this to include
the political position of Puritan partisans. In other words, a particular
economic status along with a particular political status along with a
particular religious practice all coincide in such a way that each is
especially favorable to the other, and the whole form a culture complex
(or civilizational complex) that is especially powerful for the
advancement of all of these sociocultural spheres combined—this is what
Weber means by the spirit of capitalism. Elective affinity is not
restricted to the single case, however, and can be considered a general
theory of social change; that is, when this favorable coincidence of
sociocultural spheres occurs, there can be a quantum leap forward (or
backward) on the part of a sociocultural system.
—William H. Swatos, Jr .
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