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WORK ETHIC professor said. "Originally it was a protestant racist term"

(36 Posts)
GabbyLoggon Mon 13-Jun-11 16:35:16

I knew "work ethic" was connected to religion and bosses; but I did not know the other bit.

Is it a phrase teachers use

GabbyLoggon Mon 13-Jun-11 16:35:57

Lady broadcasters us work ethic all the time. I have known 9 of them

conrsikl Mon 13-Jun-11 16:36:05

eh? confused

GabbyLoggon Mon 13-Jun-11 16:37:28

Men dont seem to use the phrase Women may because they are doing several jobs It was a Radio 4 broadcast

conrsikl Mon 13-Jun-11 16:38:03

protestant racist term - explain that

scurryfunge Mon 13-Jun-11 16:40:22

Are you referring to an old offensive term, "to have a Protestant work ethic" which suggested Cathlolics were incapable of working hard. I have heard it used but not for a long time.

LostInTransmogrification Mon 13-Jun-11 16:42:17

Whenever I have heard the term used it has been 'Protestant work ethic', not sure why it would be seen as racist (even though it is applied to a particular group) as I don't think it's a negative comment to make. doesn't it mean they are industrious and hard working?

GabbyLoggon Mon 13-Jun-11 16:49:43

I am quoting a professor doing a BBC lecture. One of you may have hit ze nail on the head. But I am no expert. Wome broadcasters us it (workethic) as though it was totally complimentary...I always thought it might be controversial

Sounds like a thing a tory PM might say with 3 million unemployed Even more likely a bosses phrase. We must stay calm, like Davey C

GabbyLoggon Mon 13-Jun-11 16:56:05

Look this is education site

Is the term work ethic used by schoolteachers. ? I have told you about femme broadcasters and bosses.

Is it a middle class term? I suspect not. Teachers in some schools do use TOUGH LOVE (an ameican import)

Mamaz0n Mon 13-Jun-11 16:57:43

oh how i have missed your utterly nonsensical rantings gabby.

Colleger Mon 13-Jun-11 17:28:17

It is slowly dawning on me that Gabby is either the thickest person I have ever come across or a mad genius living in a parallel universe.

And why do you post random half questions without the quotes or texts to show us where it came from? Why don't you discuss and enlighten us rather than asking us to discuss your weird questions? confused but grin

FreeButtonBee Mon 13-Jun-11 17:30:49

have also seen in NI context of Protestants having a work ethic and Catholics not.

We also used to say when we'd tidied up (eg the house, or garden or anything) "That's a bit more Protestant-looking". blush

Penthesileia Mon 13-Jun-11 17:32:30

The term was coined, I believe, by Weber, a sociologist, at the beginning of the 20thC in his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

It is not a "positive" term, as such, but related to Weber's analysis of the success of Western capitalism, and the "ethic" as a component of it.

Penthesileia Mon 13-Jun-11 17:34:46

Weber observes that the Protestant work ethic is one way in which capitalism is invested (excuse the pun) with a moral element, and making money/working hard, is held up as a moral achievement.

Penthesileia Mon 13-Jun-11 17:37:09

Not sure about the racism angle, though... I don't think Weber included race as an element of his study, though it's been years since I've read it.

GabbyLoggon Mon 13-Jun-11 19:24:49


TimeWasting Mon 13-Jun-11 19:34:38

Neither is calling us 'ladies'.

DamnYouAutocorrect Mon 13-Jun-11 19:35:36

It's to do with uncertainty, innit? (as Penth says) - Catholics 'know' that they will go to Heaven so long as they make confessions and do as the priest says, because Catholic priests are thought to know the mind of God/be able to assure their parishioners of salvation. Whereas, post-Luther (?), Protestants could not be assured of salvation, because there is no equivalent of confession/absolution in Protestantism. So their salvation is always uncertain, thus they are more likely to work hard/live constant 'good' lives because of the uncertainty.

Not saying I believe any of this, obv., but that was Weber's reasoning I think. Quite a neat idea in some ways. Didn't he say it lay behind the Industrial Revolution (in that Britain industrialised earlier than any other country, and was also unusual in being almost entirely Protestant by the eighteenth century)?

Of course actual reasons for Britain industrialising so early and many and complex, not least its vast reliance on the labour of slaves and the slave trade.

Penthesileia Tue 14-Jun-11 12:48:12

Well, the interesting thing is that Weber coined the term to describe what he was analysing, not in order to "praise" the so-called "work ethic", but simply to give a name to the particular dynamic he saw at work in industrialised capitalism (Weber was, after all, someone who was rather ambivalent about the disenchantment of the world and the over-bureaucratisation of human life...). So he wasn't saying, "Cor, this Protestant Work Ethic is a rather super thing".

However, it was retrospectively appropriated in a positive way by the very people for whom that particular economic/moral dynamic was most favourable, and turned into a "good thing", iyswim.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Tue 14-Jun-11 13:14:04

Are you talking about The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism?

I love a bit of Weber, me. He's well overdue a revival, particularly his discussion of anomie.

Not sure what it has to do with (ahem) lady broadcasters or teachers though confused

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Tue 14-Jun-11 13:19:42


Sorry, I see Weber's already been mentioned.

Ummm, indeed.

I see it more as a criticism of daft arse Protestant ascetism than having a go at Catholicism.

Although both Pen and DamnYou are far more eloquent than I so probably best to listen to them rather than me grin

GabbyLoggon Tue 14-Jun-11 14:45:26

Jenai Lady broadcasters use thwe WORK ETHIC term a lot. (perhaps cos they tend to be Tories or maybe because they do 2 jobs)

Is work ethic used by teachers in teaching. (this is not rocket science, please cough for Gabby)

I know "TOUGH LOVE" gets used in the acadamies. Open up for Gabby, please.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Tue 14-Jun-11 15:54:48


My opinion is that the need for a "strong work ethic" is overstated and leads, ultimately, to presenteeism and notions of a deserving and an undeserving poor.

GabbyLoggon Tue 14-Jun-11 16:06:45

If ladies is offensive then god help us. There are 3 or 4 popular gender names for women. Like icecream its a matter of choice.

Jena you have got to the bottom of the work ethic thing. The ladies I knew used the term to praise themselves. and by implication damn others. Its tough on EDUCATION innit? GL uses W.E a lot. no suprise

Bonsoir Wed 15-Jun-11 09:35:04

IME people who congratulate themselves for their own good "work ethic" are very dull people with little imagination or lifestyle.

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