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Weber and Social Movements Enku

Weber and Social Movements Enku

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Published by enkui
According to Collins, Weber is especially useful in application to political sociology and conflict theory (1990b: 4). Weber’s multifaceted approach within these subfields are helpful in analyzing social movements, here understood as collective action aimed at changing society along the lines of movement beliefs and values, with a particular focus on identity-based social movements (Collins 1990b: 4). Using Weber’s concepts of rationalization, status group, and social action, I will investigate the ongoing and necessary tensions between competing forms of social action throughout the rationalization (formation, development and possible decline) of social movements.
According to Collins, Weber is especially useful in application to political sociology and conflict theory (1990b: 4). Weber’s multifaceted approach within these subfields are helpful in analyzing social movements, here understood as collective action aimed at changing society along the lines of movement beliefs and values, with a particular focus on identity-based social movements (Collins 1990b: 4). Using Weber’s concepts of rationalization, status group, and social action, I will investigate the ongoing and necessary tensions between competing forms of social action throughout the rationalization (formation, development and possible decline) of social movements.

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Published by: enkui on Feb 23, 2012
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 Max Weber: Competing forms of Social Action in the Rationalization of SocialMovementsEnku MC IdeSOC 651Dr. Patrick Mooney11/19/2011This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visithttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.
 
Ide1According to Collins, Weber is especially useful in application to political sociology andconflict theory
(1990b: 4). Weber’s multifaceted approach within these subfields are helpful in
analyzing social movements, here understood as collective action aimed at changing societyalong the lines of movement beliefs and values, with a particular focus on identity-based socialmovements (Collins 1990b: 4).
Using Weber’s concepts of rationalization
, status group, andsocial action, I will investigate the ongoing and necessary tensions between competing forms of social action throughout the rationalization (formation, development and possible decline) of social movements.
Weber’s sociological method seeks
, specifically, to understand social action, thosebehaviors oriented toward the other, and Weber provides an ideal-typology for understanding themotivations of such behaviors. Instrumental rationality and value-rationality, those actions that
are based in a “choice between alternative and conflicting ends”
as opposed to those that are
“determined by a conscious belief in the value for its own sake …
independently of its prospects
of success,” respectively, are Weber’s central concern
(Weber in Calhoun 2007: 227, 226). Alsoincluded are affective (emotion-based) and traditional social action, although Weber sees theseas withering with an increase of rationalization. In social movements, no single form of socialaction is exclusive. Rather, different forms of social action may predominate at different pointsand in different spheres of social life, as the too-complete domination of any one form of socialaction can lead to stagnation and irrationality. The ascendance of more rational forms of socialaction among spheres of social life, and the subsequent tensions between forms of social action,lead to social change.
Rationalization is central to Weber’s work. However,
Collins writes that
rationalization
seems to take on multiple meanings (1990a: 62). On one hand, there is the
 
Ide2rationalization of 
calculability, “predictability and regularity” with the subsequent predominance
of instrumental (means-ends) rationality, over other forms of social action. On the other, the
rationalization implies an active, “world
-
transforming” approach to social acti
on as opposed topassive or reflective behavior vis-à-vis other social arenas (Collins 1990a: 62). Unlikeevolutionary or stagist theories, intra-societal institutions rationalize along their own lines of development, impacting (and being impacted upon by) the developments of other spheres of social life, rather than the rationalization of society as a whole. Increased rationality augmentsconflict between social spheres as each seeks internal consistency and autonomy (Collins 1990a:71). Such tensions a
re based in “continuous efforts to achieve consistency” both within and
between social institutions, based upon their own logics of legitimation (Collins 1990a: 74)Weber points out, for example,
that status groups “hinder the strict carrying through of th
e sheer
market principle”
(Collins 1990b: 3, Weber in Calhoun 2007: 251). As such, irrationality in onesphere shapes the rationalization of social institutions.Status groups are a particularly helpful Weberian concept to the understanding of socialmovements.
Collins refers to this concept as a “diversifying of the Marxian class scheme”(1990b: 6). Although Marx discussed the transformation of a “class in itself” to a self 
-conscious
“class for itself,” the processes of this transformation were
insufficiently analyzed. For Weber,status groups
can
be based on class, ethnicity, gender, or other social markers of prestige but are
fundamentally established based on “different life chances” that are
 
“distinctly recognizable”
(Weber in Calhoun 2007: 250).
“Above all else” specifies Weber, status groups arise from “aspecific style of life [that] is expected from all those who wish to belong to the circle” and thatalso creates “restrictions of social intercourse” (2007: 253). A status group, therefore, ca
n be
seen as a subculture with an element of exclusivity, which impacts one’s life chances based on

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