For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Work and Labour"

by Hughes, John (2013)


… of work , while these realities, the conditions of the newly emergent ' working classes', were … Weber's account in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism famously linked the spirit of modern capitalism to specifically religious causes in the puritan ethos of work as proof of …

Key Passage

Although, as we have seen, many of the early nineteenth-century writers about the question of labour employed theological frameworks of thought, whether consciously or not, it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that more explicitly Christian responses began to be developed. In France certain strands within the followers of Saint-Simon, such as Philippe Buchez, who was briefly president of the French Constituent National Assembly in 1848 and one of the founders of the worker-owned journal L’Atelier, held ‘socialist’ views clearly derived from Christian principles. This tradition of Christian ‘socialism’ migrated to Britain partly through the influence of John Ludlow, who with the theologian F. D. Maurice, and the authors Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes, formed the first significant group within the Anglo-Saxon theological world to identify themselves as ‘Christian socialists’ in the 1840s. They were responding to the rise of a mass workers’ movement in Chartism in the United Kingdom and the influence of cooperativist views of labour deriving from the utilitarian factory reformer Robert Owen and his ‘Owenite’ followers. Theologically however the Christian socialists were more indebted to the Coleridgean Romantic rejection of utilitarianism. These Christian socialists were active in the early labour and cooperative movements and in promoting education among the working classes, establishing the Working Men’s College in 1854 in London. Their vision of Christianity as essentially social against all forms of egotistical individualism and their refusal of the separation between the sacred and the secular led to them to call for mutual collaboration rather than competition: (p.159)


Protestant Work Ethic, Theology, Protestantism, Catholicism, Christianity, Working Class, Working Conditions, Weber


Religious Views on Work

Links to Reference



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