elective affinity

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elective affinity A term used by Max Weber to describe the relationship between Protestantism and capitalism (in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1905). It refers to the resonance or coherence between aspects of the teachings of Protestantism and of the capitalist enterprise, notably the ethos of the latter. The relationship was unconscious so far as the actors involved were concerned. The concept has remained firmly tied to Weber's work although it has been used loosely by other sociologists, often in situations where it seems likely that there is an association between certain variables, but it is not yet clear what form this connection might take. A more modern way of describing the situation to which the concept applies might be in terms of the connections between beliefs, actions, and the unintended consequences of action. (see R. H. Howe , ‘Max Weber's Elective Affinities’, American Journal of Sociology, 1978