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Capitalism, between spirit and culture

An article by I. Iannuzzi (Sapienza University) presents a careful discussion of one of the concepts that can help us to gain a better understanding of what makes businesses work.

“Spirito del capitalismo” (The spirit of capitalism). And as such, the nature of business and entrepreneurial actions. Right down to the ethics of business itself, and the real meaning of profit. These concepts are not new to anyone who has studied the history and the heart of what is perhaps the most widespread economic system. However, they are concepts that are often confused, almost to the point where they lose their essential and original traits. And indeed, it is precisely in the interests of reacquainting ourselves with these origins that we should read “Spirito del capitalismo. Un concetto ancora attuale? Spunti di riflessione a partire dall’analisi di Werner Sombart” (The spirit of capitalism. A concept still relevant today? Starting points for reflection on Werner Sombart’s analysis) is an article by Ilaria Iannuzzi (of the Department of Political Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome), which was published a few weeks ago on imagojournal.it.

As the author herself explains, the aim of this research is to share a number of reflections that “revolve around the concept of the ‘spirit of capitalism’, of the benefits of this, and of its relevance in today’s social landscape.” All of this is based upon the work of German sociologist Werner Sombart, who was one of the first to develop the concept of the “spirit of capitalism”.

Accordingly, the author begins by discussing Sombart’s work (highlighting, among other things, the way in which the concept of this spirit is close to that of the culture of capitalism). She then moves on to an assessment of the current “spirit of capitalism”, which she compares with that of the past, focusing on certain aspects in particular (such as that of profit).

“The spiritual dimension, albeit in a different way, appears to continue to play a considerable role in the existence and development of the capitalist economic sphere,” writes Ilaria Iannuzzi in her conclusion, before going on to add: “It remains to be determined, however, to what degree and according to which terms this signifies a real recovery of the spiritual element, or whether, on the contrary, it implies a largely instrumental use of this.”

Iannuzzi’s article tackles a tricky issue, but in a language that is clear and comprehensible, despite the conceptual challenges it must overcome. It’s definitely worth a read.

Lo spirito del capitalismo. Un concetto ancora attuale? Spunti di riflessione a partire dall’analisi di Werner Sombart (The spirit of capitalism. A concept still relevant today? Starting points for reflection on Werner Sombart’s analysis)

Number 16 – Year IX / December 2020

www.imagojournal.it