chapter  5
The use of ideal types in comparative education
A personal reflection
Pages 15

Early comparative education scholars such as Michael Sadler and Nicholas Hans often made the point that what happens outside the classroom, the wider context of education, is as important a focus of study in comparative education as the educational process itself. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1958) is perhaps Weber's most influential work, and here one can see a clear response to Karl Marx's economic determinism. Economic factors were certainly fundamental to the development of capitalism, but Weber shows how distinctive religious values, namely those of various sects of ascetic Protestantism, made a striking difference to the kinds of capitalism that took shape in different parts of Europe. Weber's fascination with the exploration of values in historical change led him on a worldwide search through ancient civilizations, including an analysis of the role of values in social change in traditional China.