Baldacchino “Markets of piety and pious markets”

September 20, 2012

Baldacchino, Jean-Paul.  2012.  Markets of piety and pious markets: the Protestant ethic and the spirit of Korean capitalism.  Social Compass 59(3): 367-385.

Abstract: The author takes a historical and ethnographic approach to the rise of Korean Protestantism and its relationship to Korean modernization and capitalist development. He argues that while theories of Asian capitalism have looked at the ways a Confucian work ethic has helped the development of Asian capitalist economies, this perspective ignores the overarching concern with regional identity. This approach has also tended to ignore the diversity of religious landscapes in East Asia. The author argues that the phenomenal rise of Protestantism in South Korea has to be located within the context of processes of modernization. Exploring ethnographically the nature of Korean Protestantism reveals a theological doctrine of Puritanism, which shares ‘elective affinities’ with the capitalist ethic. Adopting a Weberian approach the author undertakes a detailed analysis of the sermons and ritual life of one Korean church in Seoul and relates this to larger historical and economic processes in South Korea.

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