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Max Weber's Wirtschaftsgeschichte (General Economic History in English) (1923 translation 1927) is a book of economic theory which was composed by his students from lecture notes and released three years after his death in 1920. In his General Economic History, Weber creates an institutional theory of the rise of capitalism in the west. Unlike in his earlier work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, religion is given a minor role. The emphasis of the work lies instead on the place of the state and calculable law in allowing economic actors to predict exchange for gain.

Weber's institutional theory of capitalism was rediscovered in the early 1980s by writers like Randall Collins, Daniel Chirot, and Douglass C. North, who worked to replace theories based largely on Immanuel Wallerstein's "World Systems" theory. Though today read primarily by sociologists and social philosophers, Weber's work did have a significant influence on Frank Knight, one of the founders of the neoclassical Chicago school of economics, who translated Weber's General Economic History into English in 1927.[1][2]


  1. ^ Ross B. Emmett (2005). Frank Knight and the Chicago School in American Economics. Routledge. pp. 111-123. ISBN 978-0-415-77500-7. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  2. ^ Max Weber (1927). General Economic History. London: George Allen & Unwin .

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