Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Constructive-Reflective Studies
Yale Divinity School
Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism (Yale University Press)
From the jury:
There is a new spirit abroad in the land, and it is the spirit of finance capitalism; so argues Katherine Tanner. Tanner demonstrates that finance capitalism is qualitatively distinct from capitalism as analyzed by Max Weber. Tanner offers an incisive, original, and succinct analysis of finance capitalism and the subjectivity and worldview (in terms of time, work, purpose, and selfhood) that it nurtures. She also shows with admirable clarity how it contrasts with and contradicts both specifically Protestant and larger Christian theological traditions. Particularly striking is Tanner’s persuasive claim that, “there is surprisingly little reason to think Christianity has a direct interest in developing a work ethic at all, whatever the form that ethic takes,” a claim that subverts the relentless competitive demands that finance capitalism places on workers.
Tanner has demonstrated her characteristic and brilliant capacity to think constructively and clearly as a theologian, and to engage herself in considerable depth with disciplinary tools beyond theology and religious studies. Kathryn Tanner’s book offers a powerful Christian vision of selfhood and divine transformation as an alternative to the dominant myth of the twenty-first century. Tanner argues that Christianity, precisely in its present marginality, remains a cultural power that can, from the outside, contest the ubiquitous and totalizing system of finance-dominated capitalism.