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Max Weber
1864-1920
Katie Geneser
Hayden George
Background
 Born 1864, Thuringia
 Father was wealthy civil servant who was highly involved
in both politics and academics
 For Christmas one year he wrote two analytical essays to
give to his parents as gifts
 Attended law school
 Spent some time in the military
Background
 In 1893 he married Marianne Schnitger a feminist
activist and author
 Took a job as a professor eventually ending up at the
University of Heidelberg
Early Work
 Early on took an interest in contemporary social
policy
 Felt that the role of economics was the primary
source of solving social problems
Influences
 Strongly influenced by German Idealism
 Linked romanticism and Enlightenment politics
 Kant, Freud, and Simmel
 Strongly influenced by Marx’s ideas of socialism and
active politics
 Differed on the idea of utopian society
Concepts and Contributions
 Bureaucracy
 Pre-conditions
 Growth in space and population
 Growth in complexity of the administrative tasks being carried out
 Existence of monetary economy, requires a more efficient
administrative system
Concepts and Contributions
 Bureaucracy
 Communication and transportation policies make more efficient
administration possible
 Hierarchical organization
 Delineated lines of authority in a fixed area of activity
 Rules are implemented by neutral officials, not the power elite
 Advancements depend on technical qualifications from organizations
not individuals
 Can be a threat to individual freedom
Concepts and Contributions
 Rationalization
 “The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and,
above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world’”
 Instead of the power elite holding society back, it is the laws,
rules and regulations capitalism requires
 Curtails people’s freedoms and traps them in bureaucratic
society
 Process is less welcome of individualism and “dehumanizes
people”
Concepts and Contributions
 Rationalization
 Zweckrational (i.e., formal) rationality. The rationality of
means-ends relationships, wherein an identifiable goal is
sought by pursuing reasonably defined means.
 Wertrational (i.e., substantive) rationality. The rationality of
non-goal oriented behavior, wherein behavior is pursued
independently of the prospects of success.
Concepts and Contributions
 Verstehen
 German word for interpretive understanding
 Looking at society from your own point of view rather than
from that of the indigenous culture
 How people give meaning to the social world around them
 Gives a subjective understanding about individual and group
behavior
Concepts and Contributions
 The Protestant Ethic
 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)
 Emphasizes hard work, frugality, and prosperity as a display as
a person’s salvation in the Christian faith
 Societies that are more Protestant tend to be more
bureaucratic than capitalist and to Weber this is a good thing
 Workers are more likely to be devoted to their craft and are
less alienated
Views on Society
 Bureaucratic Society
 Rather than capitalism or communism, Weber thought society
should be run through a system of well organized institutions
 Society can be understood through empirical observation
rather than quantitative research
 Power is not just in the hands of the elite
Relevancy
 Influenced Parsons, Habermas, and many others
 Presented sociology as the “science of human social
action”
 Developed antipositivism; stressing the differences
between social and natural sciences
 Weber Bureaucracies: showed how there are
bureaucratic elements of every part of society
Limitations
 His specific explanations for society in his time are
hard to generalize for other circumstances in society
 Failed to see all the positive aspects of rationalization
and deemed society to be doomed and trapped in an
“iron cage” of its own making
 Bureaucratic features of Weber’s ideal society might
actually be inefficient (argued by Merton)

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Weber's Perspective

  • 2. Background  Born 1864, Thuringia  Father was wealthy civil servant who was highly involved in both politics and academics  For Christmas one year he wrote two analytical essays to give to his parents as gifts  Attended law school  Spent some time in the military
  • 3. Background  In 1893 he married Marianne Schnitger a feminist activist and author  Took a job as a professor eventually ending up at the University of Heidelberg
  • 4. Early Work  Early on took an interest in contemporary social policy  Felt that the role of economics was the primary source of solving social problems
  • 5. Influences  Strongly influenced by German Idealism  Linked romanticism and Enlightenment politics  Kant, Freud, and Simmel  Strongly influenced by Marx’s ideas of socialism and active politics  Differed on the idea of utopian society
  • 6. Concepts and Contributions  Bureaucracy  Pre-conditions  Growth in space and population  Growth in complexity of the administrative tasks being carried out  Existence of monetary economy, requires a more efficient administrative system
  • 7. Concepts and Contributions  Bureaucracy  Communication and transportation policies make more efficient administration possible  Hierarchical organization  Delineated lines of authority in a fixed area of activity  Rules are implemented by neutral officials, not the power elite  Advancements depend on technical qualifications from organizations not individuals  Can be a threat to individual freedom
  • 8. Concepts and Contributions  Rationalization  “The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and, above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world’”  Instead of the power elite holding society back, it is the laws, rules and regulations capitalism requires  Curtails people’s freedoms and traps them in bureaucratic society  Process is less welcome of individualism and “dehumanizes people”
  • 9. Concepts and Contributions  Rationalization  Zweckrational (i.e., formal) rationality. The rationality of means-ends relationships, wherein an identifiable goal is sought by pursuing reasonably defined means.  Wertrational (i.e., substantive) rationality. The rationality of non-goal oriented behavior, wherein behavior is pursued independently of the prospects of success.
  • 10. Concepts and Contributions  Verstehen  German word for interpretive understanding  Looking at society from your own point of view rather than from that of the indigenous culture  How people give meaning to the social world around them  Gives a subjective understanding about individual and group behavior
  • 11. Concepts and Contributions  The Protestant Ethic  The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)  Emphasizes hard work, frugality, and prosperity as a display as a person’s salvation in the Christian faith  Societies that are more Protestant tend to be more bureaucratic than capitalist and to Weber this is a good thing  Workers are more likely to be devoted to their craft and are less alienated
  • 12. Views on Society  Bureaucratic Society  Rather than capitalism or communism, Weber thought society should be run through a system of well organized institutions  Society can be understood through empirical observation rather than quantitative research  Power is not just in the hands of the elite
  • 13. Relevancy  Influenced Parsons, Habermas, and many others  Presented sociology as the “science of human social action”  Developed antipositivism; stressing the differences between social and natural sciences  Weber Bureaucracies: showed how there are bureaucratic elements of every part of society
  • 14. Limitations  His specific explanations for society in his time are hard to generalize for other circumstances in society  Failed to see all the positive aspects of rationalization and deemed society to be doomed and trapped in an “iron cage” of its own making  Bureaucratic features of Weber’s ideal society might actually be inefficient (argued by Merton)