Max Weber ( 1864-1920) • Born in Erfurt, Germany • Very influenced by political and intellectual people that visited his home.
Max Weber (1864-1920) • He attended the University of Heidelberg where he became interested in law and then expanded studies to economics, medieval history, and philosophy. • He then left for military service after three years at Heidelberg.
Own behavior was questioned when he fell in love with his first cousin Emmy. Engaged for 6 years but Emmy became ill physically and mentally and was confined to sanitarium. Max returned home to Berlin to live with parents and attended graduate school at the University of Berlin in 1884. Weber eventually became a lawyer and started teaching at the University of Berlin. In 1893, taught economics at University of Freiburg and then moved to chair of economics at Heidelburg. Weber also married Marianne Schnitger, cousin on his father’s side. Max Weber (1864-1920)
Max Weber (1864-1920) • He also suffered from insomnia and was institutionalized in a sanitarium and finally recovered 5 years later. • Weber spent part of his time being a co-editor of the Archiv fuer Sozialwissenschaft. • His writings on social and economic organizations, religion, science, and politics very rarely appeared as books during lifetime.
Writings eventually were translated in English. Was inspired in 1905 by trip to America and he published his classic The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Explained why capitalism took hold in certain parts of the world using religion on an academic level. Other publications include: The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1916) The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism (1916-17) The Sociology of Religion (1921) Economy and Society (died during this work) Max Weber (1864-1920)
Influences - Nietzsche • Wrote an analysis of psychological mechanisms “by which ideas become rationalizations utilized in the service of private aspirations or power and mastery”. • Nietzsche and Weber were both worried that the 20th century would be filled with horror and tyranny.
Influences - Marx • Believed that ideas are expressions of public interests and serve as weapons in the struggle of classes and parties. • Each believed that modern methods of organization increased productivity, but the new rationalized efficiency stood to dehumanize individuals. • Weber believed this humanization wasn’t limited only to capitalism, but would be found in all social systems. • Weber disagreed with Marx that economic order was determined only by class struggle and the means of production. Weber considered political power and military effects as well.
Verstehen • Weber believed that sociologists had the ability to understand the phenomena they study, while natural scientists did not. • Sociologists must look at the actions of individuals and examine meanings attached to those behaviors. • Using this method while studying religion and capitalism, Weber was able to understand what Calvinists thought of predestination, and what Hebrew prophets thought about God. • Verstehen shares similar goals with the techniques of interviewing, focus groups, or ethnographic observation.
Verstehen • Critics call the verstehen method simple intuition, subjective research methodology, and “soft science”. • Weber denies this criticism calling verstehen a rational procedure of study involving systematic and rigorous research.
Social Action • Weber’s initial theoretical focus was on the subjective meaning humans attach to their actions while interacting with one another, within specific historical contexts. • Weber defined action as meaningful purposive behavior. • Weber’s vision of sociology saw it as the study of social action among human beings. This is a complete contrast to Durkheim’s views. • Weber believed sociology should reduce concepts to the understanding of individual actions.
Social Action • Social actions can be active or non-active, past, present or future, and social or non-social. • Weber’s 4 Types of Social Action • Zweckrational – action in which means to attain a particular goal are rationally chosen. (college degree) • Wertrational – action characterized by striving through rational means for a goal which may not be rational. (salvation) • Affective – action centered around an emotional state. (choosing a school) • Traditional – action guided by customs or “the eternal yesterday” (choosing to attend college)
Ideal Types • A concept constructed by a social scientist based on their interest and theoretical orientation. • Ideal types are used to capture features of social phenomenon. A measuring rod of sorts. • For Weber idea types are hypothetically concrete creations used for instituting precise comparisons. • Examples • Social Action • “Ideal Capitalism” – private ownership, pursuit of profit, competition, and laissez-faire
Rationalization • Weber had a general theme about the problem of the nature, causes, and effects of rationality on modern society. • He believed Western capitalistic society was unique because only there had science (the most rational mode of thought) become the norm of thought. • Weber bemoaned what he called the increasing tendency to rationalization • Four Types of Rationality in Weber’s work • Practical Rationality – every way of life that an individual evaluates worldly activity and its effect on that person. • Theoretical Rationality – involves a cognitive effort to master reality through means such as logical deduction and induction rather than through action. • Substantive Rationality – dictates courses of action based on a value system which limits certain behavior. • Formal Rationality – courses of action are dictated by universal rules, laws, and regulation.
Bureaucracy • Weber describes these as goal oriented organizations designed according to some set of rational principles. • They consist of rules which reflect norms and values of society. • Weber believed that bureaucracy of the modern world causes its depersonalization.
Bureaucracy • In Economy and Society (1925) Weber defined the bureaucracy ideal type: • Official business is conducted on a continuous basis. • Business is conducted in accordance with stipulated rules. • Every official’s responsibility and authority are a part of a hierarchy of authority. • Officials do not own the resources necessary for them to perform their assigned functions, but they are accountable for the use of those resources. • Offices cannot be appropriated by their incumbents in the sense of property that can be inherited or sold. • Official business is conducted on the basis of written documents.
Bureaucracy • Weber noted that as complexity increases so does bureaucratic coordination of action. Bureaucracy has become the dominant structural feature of modern society. • Weber noted dysfunctions of bureaucracy • It excludes emotion and personal involvement in favor of rational decision making, depersonalizing society. • He regarded bureaucracy and rationality as an inescapable fate, calling it the “Iron Cage” rather than a paradise.
Causality • Weber saw causality in terms of the probability that an event will be followed by another event. • He thought sociologists should report reasons and meanings for action taken by individuals. • However Webber did see that attaining casual certainty in social research is impossible. • We should focus theories on important relationships between social forces and forecast from those theories in terms of probability. • For example: Weber disagreed with Marx’s assertion of the primacy of material conditions in determining human behavior. • Weber’s system considers both ideas and material factors as interactive components in the society.
Causality • Weber wanted to show that relationships between ideas and social structures were multiple, varied, and bi-directional. • Weber cited three topics of causality. • Human actions cannot be explained in terms of absolute “laws” such as cause and effect. • To grasp the meaning of human actions would require a different method than known to social science. (beyond positivism) • The social scientists own values will enter into conclusions in a way that those of the natural scientist’s do not.
Values and Value Relevance • Weber believed that social research would have difficulty attaining a value-neutral approach to study. • He saw no absolutely “objective” scientific analysis of culture or social phenomenon. • Value relevance is the notion that the very selection of research problems reflects the sociologists values. • Weber believed that teachers must never let their personal values enter into the classroom and that students should be presented with just the facts. • Weber believed scholars had the right to express their personal values freely in speeches, in the press, and in their research.
Values and Value Relevance • Weber separated from positivists in that be believed human behavior could be understood through verstehen. • Weber believed that an empirical social science cannot tell people what they “ought” to do, only what they “can” do. • For Weber, the role of social science was to help people make choices among various ultimate value positions.
Types of Authority • Wondered what basis men and women claimed authority over others. • Power: ability to impose one’s will onto another, even when met with objection • Authority: legitimate power • Distribution of power and authority is basis of social conflict • Often called the “bourgeois Marx” • nearly critical as Marx of modern capitalistic system • wanted gradual change instead of revolution
Types of Authority • Power: associated with personality • Authority: associated with social positions • Authority is universal element of social structure. • Realizes and symbolizes functional integration of social systems • If individuals ranked according to sum total of their authority, pattern will not be a dichotomy, but rather like scales of stratification according to income and prestige
Types of Authority • Social class signifies conflict within groups. • Ideal Type: analytical tool • Three types of authority: • Rational-legal authority is based on rational rules legally or contractually established; characterized by bureaucracies • Traditional Authority is dominant type in pre-modern societies; characterized by monarchies • Charismatic authority rests on appeal of leader and is naturally unstable; characterized by Hitler
Types of Authority • One of the earliest political theorists whoconceived of authority as relationship between leaders and followers, rather than leader alone • Although he never clearly defined charisma, its importance “lies with his sociological approach in the understanding of ‘why’ humans behave as they do. • Status group can only exist as long as there is a social distance between “them” and “us.” • People with money will always ascend to the top
Social Class and Inequality • (Similar to Marx) Defined it as a category of persons who have a “common specific causal component of their life chances” • Members within status group identify one another based on lifestyles and social esteem and honor received from others • “Haves” and the “Have Nots” • Classification is based on consumption patterns rather than process of production. • Inequality people experience results from lack of power due to low economic status
Protestant Ethic/ Spirit of Capitalism • Best known work; marked beginning of a Weberian sociology of worldview • It encouraged people to apply themselves rationally to work • This grew out of the idea of Calvinism (basically wealth was a sign of God’s blessing • Calvinism stimulated hard work, determination to succeed, and making money.
Protestant Ethic/Spirit of Capitalism • The spirit of Capitalism legitimized an unequal distribution of goods • Explained Western capitalism growth • Explained that despite similar characteristics in several preindustrial societies, they lacked the cultural encourage and approval to abandon traditional ways • Protestant ethic not only cause, but powerful force
Race Relations • “Said that if objective racial differences could be determined purely by physiological criteria, then the intensity of subjective feelings of attraction and repulsion between races might be measured accordingly.” • Wrote Sociology of Religion • Developed this from German attitudes of Jewish people • Supported assimilation
Race Relations • Considered the most tolerant German liberal thinker • Visited U.S. in 1904 and observed that blacks questioned and immigration formed a “big, black cloud.” • Riots between blacks and white broke out a few years later
Social Theory • Provided us with various terms and substantial contributions to social theory • Structural functionalism, conflict, and symbolic interactionism (did not use these) • Died in 1920s, but his work was discovered by Parsons
Social Theory • Conflict Theory: social order exists as a result of coercion created by people at top • Symbolic interactionism: people interact with one another using symbols
Relevancy • Excelled in many different fields • Considered to have had “a more powerful positive impact on a wide range of sociological theories than any other sociological theorist.” • German Association for Sociology (1909) • McDonaldization of Society • Bureaucracy • rationalism
Relevancy • Verstehen: allows for great deal of insightful information into the character of a human being • Multicausality: belief that multiple social forces affect persons all the time • Believed that “laws” of human behavior are impossible to create • Values/value relevance; always bias