Max Weber Group 2
Max Weber: Introduction • Born April 21, 1864 • In Erfurt in Thuringia, Germany (Suburbs of Berlin) • Eldest of seven children in upper middle class family • German Political Economist and Sociologist • One of the founders of modern Sociology • Began his interest in Social Sciences when he was 13 • Brother Alfred became a Sociologist and Economist • Helped found the German Democratic Party
Max Weber: Education • In 1882 Weber enrolled in the University of Heidelberg as a law student • In 1884 transferred back home to study at the University of Berlin • Studied one term at the University of Goettingen and had short periods of military training • In 1886 passed the “Referendar” (similar to the bar association in British and American legal systems) but continued to study history • In 1889 earned his law doctorate and two years later was qualified to hold a German professorship
Max Weber: Post Education • After 1889 took an interest in contemporary social policy • Joined a professional association of German economists (called the “Verin”) who saw economics solved the many social problems of the age • In 1890 the “Verin” established a research program to study influx of foreign farm workers to Eastern Germany as local laborers migrated to Germany’s rapidly industrializing cities. • Weber was put in charge of this study and wrote a large part of the results. • The final report was acclaimed as an excellent piece of empirical research and boosted Weber’s reputation as an expert in agrarian economics (microeconomics)
Later Life • 1893-Married Marianne Schnitger, who later became an author and published Weber’s works after his death • 1894-Moved to the University of Freiburg, appointed professor of Economics • 1896-Moved to the University of Heidelburg • 1898- Quarreled with his father, who died two months later, which left Weber more prone to nervousness and insomnia. • Reduced his teaching load and spent months in a sanitarium • 1900-Moved to Italy for two years
The Protestant Ethic • Between 1898-1902 Weber didn’t publish a single paper • 1903-Resigned from Heidelburg professorship and became an associate editor for Archives for Social Science and Social Welfare • 1904-Published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, his most famous and influential work.
During WWI • During World War I, Weber joined the worker and soldier council of Heidelburg (1918). • Was also consultant to the German Armistice Commission at the Treaty of Versailles, and a member of the committee responsible for drafting the Weimar Constitution -He personally advocated for the inclusion of Article 48 in the Weimar Constitution, which Hitler later used as justification for his dictatorship
After WWI • He resumed teaching after WWI, first at Vienna and later at Munich • In Munich he established a sociology institution in the University but didn’t personally participate in it. • He was extremely left-wing during this time, prompting several right-wing protests from students. • Max Weber died of pnuemonia in Munich on June 14, 1920
Max Weber: Works Intro • Individualist • More cultural in orientation than Marx and Durkheim • Believed the work of social institutions was collective among individuals under influence • Religious, Political, Economic, and Aesthetic all motivated action. • Argued that social science should seek causal arguments that generalize past any particular case, even if it was not possible to build universal laws of human society. • Stressed the proper object of analysis was social action. (action results from the head which has subjective motivations)
Max Weber Objectivity in Social Science
Max Weber: Objectivity in Social Science • Only way to escape the subjectivity of researcher is the use of ideal types • Ideal types must be explained in detail to understand how the historian would like the word to be interpreted. • Confuses theory and history • Capitalism and Democracy? • Church and sect? • If a historian does not pay attention to the use of ideal types without elaboration, his work may be vaguely felt.
Max Weber: Objectivity in Social Science • The danger of ideal types results from a cultural understanding • Ideal types used in objective explanations of social action should be concerned with the ideas that subjectivity motivate action • “Synthesis is an ‘idea’ which we have created emerges even more markedly when those fundamental main principles have either only very imperfectly or not at all been raised to the level of explicit consciousness or at least have not taken the form of explicitly elaborated complexes of ideas.”
Max Weber: Objectivity in Social Science • Ideal types usually represent what is essential to the expositor in that period in time. • Ex. Christianity • If a historian portrays the ideas he feels are essential to Christianity this will represent his “idea” of Christianity • This ideal may differ from the values of other persons say the early Christians or people with similar beliefs but in different denominations • This creates an invalid interpretation • There must be a precise distinction between logically comparative analysis of reality by ideal types in the logical sense and the value judgment of reality on the basis of ideals.
Max Weber: Discussion Questions • Weber identified a technique used by historians called an “ideal type” which represents concepts that need to be explained by the historian to identify what the historian had in mind. Can you think of an example where this could be applied to today’s world and how could it be misinterpreted? • How important do you feel that the explanation of ideal types is when a new idea or unfamiliar idea is brought forth? Can it be considered a good or bad thing when new ideas are brought forth differ from the collective empirical knowledge that exists?
Basic Sociological Terms Max Weber - 1914
Preliminary Information • Found at the beginning of Economy and Society • Attempts to outline the basic tools of sociology • Provides Weber’s view of sociology as a part of the social sciences
Definition of Sociology and Social Action • "Sociology is a science concerning itself with the interpretive understanding of social action and thereby with a causal explanation of its course and consequences." • Action relates to how an actor attaches “subjective meaning” to his/her behavior and it is “social” to the extent that its subjective meaning takes account of the behavior of others.
Methodological Foundations • Meaning (two kinds) • the actual existing meaning of a particular actor or the average meaning given to a group of actors • the theoretically conceived pure type of subjective meaning attributed to the actor/group • Distinguishing meaningful action from simple reaction is difficult, and purely historical actions are often both active and reactive
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • “All interpretation of meaning strives for clarity and verifiable accuracy.” Basis for certainty can be either rational (math/logic) or emotional (empathy/art). • For methodological reasons, it is preferable to treat all irrational action as a deviation from an typical rational course of action • Weber emphasizes that rationality is a method of sociology and should not be the substance of sociology
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • “In all the sciences of human action, account must be taken of processes and phenomena which are devoid of subjective meaning…”(stimuli, results, circumstance) • Understanding may be of two kinds: • Direct observational (speech, facial expressions) • Explanatory understanding (understanding the motive behind an action)
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • Understanding involves the interpretive grasp of meaning in one of the following contexts: • Historical – intended meaning for concrete action • Sociological mass phenomena – average intended meaning • Ideal types – appropriate to scientific understanding • Often we have only the 'imaginary experiment' - thinking away particular elements of a chain of motivation and thereby arriving at a causal judgment.
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • Motive - a complex of subjective meanings which seems to account for the conduct in question • Processes and uniformities not designated as sociological because they are not “understandable” are not any less important. Such phenomena are treated as conditions, stimuli, or circumstance (furthering or hindering)
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • Action ... exists only as the behavior of one or more individualhuman beings • Thinking on lower levels does not lead to subjective understandings. • Social collectivities must be treated as modes of organization resulting from actions of individuals. • Weber cautions against “organic” school of sociology, which focuses on the “whole” in which the individual may act. He believes that this is a valuable first step, but only a first step of sociological analysis.
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • Sociological "laws" - or generalizations from typical probabilities observed • "are both understandable and definite in the highest degree insofar as the typically observed point of action can be understood in terms of the purely rational pursuit of an end.“ • It is when the means to such actions are clearly determined by the context, that it becomes clear that purely psychological approaches fail. • Weber believed that using any kind of psychology as the ultimate foundation of the sociological interpretation of action to be flawed and erroneous
Methodological Foundations (cont.) • Sociology differs from history in that we seek generalized uniformities and processes to form type concepts, which differs from the exact data proposed in a particular case by historians. • Sociological concepts can contribute towards the causal explanation of historically and culturally significant phenomenon. • Sociology can offer greater precision in concepts as a trade for precision in empirical cases • while we seek a subjective understanding, actors may not be consciously aware of these motivations themselves. Actors often act out of impulse or habit.
Social Action • Social action is oriented toward others. These can be past, present, or future, known or unknown. • Not every kind of action is social action. Overt action is non-social if it is oriented solely to the behavior of inanimate objects (religious activity such as personal meditation or prayer). • Not all contact is social (like a collision of two cyclists) if it is merely a natural accident. The discussion/confrontation that follows the crash would be. • Social action is not identical to similar actions across many people or every action influenced by other people. Putting up umbrellas due to rain is not a social action. Neither is simple imitation of others, if it is entirely reactive.
Types of Social Action Social action may be oriented in four ways: • Instrumentally rational - Determined by expectations as to the behavior of objects or persons in the environment • Value rational- Determined by a conscious belief in the value for its own sake of some ethical , etc. behavior, independent of its success • Affectual (especially emotional) - Determined by the actors specific states and feelings • Traditional - Determined by ingrained habit.
Types of Social Action • Strictly traditional behavior is often NOT social, but a matter of purely automatic reaction. • Purely affectual behavior also stands on the borderline of what can be "meaningfully" oriented - such as emotional reactions. • Value-rationality differs from affectual in its conscious formulation of the ultimate values guiding the action. These are people acting on their convictions, regardless of the outcome. • Action s instrumentally rational when the end, means and secondary results are all rationally taken into consideration and weighed. • It would be very unusual to find any type of social action that was solely one of these ways, nor is this thought to be an exhaustive list.
Discussion Questions • With Weber’s definitions of social action in mind, create some hypothetical scenarios in which social action occurs and then classify the type of social action it exhibits. Also create scenarios that do not fit Weber’s definition and explain why they are not examples of social action.
Discussion Questions • What examples from Weber’s Basic Sociological Terms are still relative in contemporary sociological theory and how? Did this work influence other famous sociologists? • How has sociological theory evolved and how might it be different without the works of Max Weber?
Max Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Die protestantiche Ethik und der “Geist” des kapitalismus
The Basic Idea • A rise in rationalization, particularly rationalization of the economy • To Weber, the most rational economic system is capitalism • Capitalism arose when large numbers of people worked in the secular world, influenced by a work ethic derived from Protestantism, particularly Calvinism. This lead to the development of enterprises and accumulation of wealth.
…continued • Worldly activities, particularly business, were given positive social and moral meaning, ethically encouraged, and rationally pursued. • NOT the goal of the religion, but rather a byproduct, giving rise to capitalism, allowing for the basic amount of accumulated wealth for capitalism to evolve. • Paradox: Religious devotion is not typically associated with worldly success- Why is this so in Protestantism?
The Protestant Ethic • Calvinists believed in predestination- their salvation (or lack thereof) was already determined and what they did on Earth didn’t change it. • Therefore, they looked for signs of their salvation, the major one being success in business. • It was also their ethical duty to seek profit, or to be a good worker • There was no guilt in being a successful capitalist, extorting workers, because success and failure economically was decided by God and a marker of divine favor.
Protestant Ethic • The new Protestant religions compelled people to work extremely hard in the secular world, making it more likely they’d accumulate wealth. • However, these sects forbade using this wealth for materialism, luxury goods, etc., so the majority of this capital was re-invested into enterprise to be even more successful. • All these beliefs about economic success add up to the Protestant Ethic
Roots of the Protestant Ethic • The Reformation- There was no longer solely salvation in the church. • New Protestant religions that didn’t look to the church to earn or assure salvation, but rather that it was already pre-ordained. • However, the average Protestant could not easily adjust to this new view, only “religious geniuses” like Martin Luther could accept this without question. • Protestants began to look for other signs or divine signals that they were among the saved.
Spirit of Capitalism • Essentially the ideas and habits that favor the rational pursuit of economic gain. -This is the attitude of what Weber calls the “heroic enteprenuers”. • Not motivated by greed for profit, as had been the case for the rest of history, but by an ethical system that encouraged hard work and economic success. • Being successful and working hard was highly moral, and one’s moral duty.
Spirit of Capitalism • Systematical, rational pursuit of profit combined with frugality, punctuality, fairness, and the earning of money itself as a legitimate goal. • This was not compatible with other religions, particularly Catholicism, allowing capitalism to first and more successfully evolve in Protestant countries.
Capitalism • Capitalism continued to be successful as the western world continued to become more and more secular. • The religious underpinnings of capitalism’s success disappeared from society. • However, the Protestant ethic was largely responsible for what Weber terms the “disenchantment of the Western world”, becoming an industrialized society free from “magic”. • This thesis is quite a critique of Marx by stating that religion fostered capitalism, not that the base for capitalism was actually economic.
Discussion Questions • Do you think Weber’s thesis is valid? Did capitalism come from this Protestant ethic, or could there be other explanations (Marx, Polanyi)? Why or why not? • How much of a role does religion play in the economy in today’s modern society? How much does modern society affect religion?