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SOC4044 Sociological

Theory:
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Max Weber
1864-1920
Pronounced
vey-bear
German
Protestant
Mother was a
strong Calvinist
Father was a
German bourgeoisie
politician

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Max Weber

Paradigm: Pluralist
Class of Theories: Divergent Interests
Sociology is properly concerned with
individuals, not just structure
(Perdue 1986:173)
Perdue, William D. 1986. Sociological Theory: Explanation, Paradigm, and
Ideology. Palto Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.

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Max Weber:
Social Action
Max Weber conceived of sociology as a
comprehensive science of social
action.
action In his analytical focus on
individual human actors he differed from
many of his predecessors whose
sociology was conceived in social-
structural terms. Spencer concentrated
on the evolution of the body social as
analogous to an organism.
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Max Weber:
Social Action
Durkheims central concern was with
institutional arrangements that
maintain the cohesion of social
structures. Marxs vision of society
was informed by his preoccupation
with the conflicts between social
classes within changing social
structures and productive relations.
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Max Weber:
Social Action
In contrast, Webers primary focus was on the
subjective meanings that human actors attach
to their actions in their mutual orientations
within specific social-historical contexts.
Behavior devoid of such meaning, Weber
argued, falls outside the purview of sociology.
Coser (1971:217)
Coser, Lewis A. 1971. Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in
Historical and Social Context. New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich.

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Max Weber:
Social Action

Review Handout

Webers Model of Social


System

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Max Weber:
Social Action
Four Major Types of Social Action
Purposeful or Goal-oriented
Rational Action
Both goal and means are rationally
chosen
Example: An engineer who builds a bridge
by the most efficient technique of relating
means to ends

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Max Weber:
Social Action
Value-oriented Rational Action
Striving for a substantive goal, which in
itself may not be rational but which is
nonetheless pursued
Example: Attainment of salvation

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Max Weber:
Social Action
Emotional or Affective
Motivation Action
Anchored in the emotional state of the
actor rather than in the rational
weighing of means and ends
Example: Participants in the religious
services of a fundamentalist sect

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Max Weber:
Social Action
Traditional Action
Guided by customary habits of thought,
by reliance on the eternal yesterday
Example: The behavior of members of an
Orthodox Jewish congregation

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Max Weber:
Social Action
Weber was primarily concerned with modern
Western society, in which, as he saw it,
behavior had come to be dominated
increasingly by goal-oriented rationality,
whereas in earlier periods it tended to be
motivated by tradition, affect, or value-
oriented rationality. His studies of non-
Western societies were primarily designed
to highlight this distinctive Western
development.
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Max Weber:
Social Action
Karl Mannheim stated:
Max Webers whole work is in the
last analysis directed toward the
question Which social factors
have brought about the
rationalization of Western
civilization?
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Max Weber:
Ideal Types
Ideal Types
An ideal type is an analytical construct that serves the
investigator as a measuring rod to ascertain
similarities as well as deviations in concrete cases. It
provide the basic method for comparative study.
An ideal type is not meant to be a moral ideal.
There can be an ideal type of a brothel or a chapel.
It is not a statistical average
Average Protestants in a given region or at a give time
may be quite different from ideal typical Protestants
Used to develop hypotheses

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Max Weber:
Ideal Types
Three levels of Ideal Types
First are the ideal types rooted in
historical particularities, such as the
western city, the Protestant Ethic, or
modern capitalism, which refer to
phenomena that appear only in specific
historical periods and in particular
cultural areas.

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Max Weber:
Ideal Types
A second kind involves abstract elements of social
reality--such concepts as bureaucracy or
feudalism--that may be found in a variety of
historical and cultural contexts.
Finally, there is a third kind of ideal
type. . .rationalizing reconstructions of a particular
kind of behavior. According to Weber, all
propositions in economic theory, for example, fall
into this category. They all refer to ways in which
man would behave were they actuated by purely
economic motives, were they purely economic men.

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Max Weber:
Authority
Authority
Three main modes of authority
(claiming legitimacy)
Rational-legal authority
Authority may be based on rational grounds
and anchored in impersonal rules that have
been legally enacted or contractually
established.

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Max Weber:
Authority
Traditional authority
Based on the belief in the sanctity of tradition,
of the eternal yesterday. It is not codified in
impersonal rules, but inheres in particular
persons who may either inherit it or be
invested with it by a higher authority
Charismatic authority
Rests on the appeal of leaders who claim
allegiance because of their extraordinary
virtuosity, whether ethical, heroic, or religious.

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Max Weber:
Authority
This typology of various forms of authority
relations is important on several counts. Its
sociological contribution rests more
especially on the fact that Weber, in contrast
to many political theorists, conceives of
authority in all its manifestations as
characteristic of the relation between
leaders and followers, rather than as an
attribute of the leader alone.

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Max Weber:
Bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
Formal organization of the officialdom of large-
scale enterprise (e.g., government, military,
economic, religious, educational), the ideal-type of
such as organization characterized by:
Clearly defined division of labor
Rationality (i.e., a business-like attention to implementing
goals of the organization)
Impersonal application of rules
Routinization of tasks to the degree that personnel are
easily replaceable

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Max Weber:
Bureaucracy
This bureaucratic coordination of the
actions of large numbers of people has
become the dominant structural feature
of modern forms of organization. Only
through this organizational device has
large-scale planning, both for the
modern state and the modern economy,
become possible.

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Max Weber:
Bureaucracy

Yet Weber also noted the


dysfunctions of bureaucracy.
Its major advantage, the
calculability of results, also
causes depersonalization. It is
difficult to deal with individual
cases.
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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
Major works
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Two Parts:
1904 and 1905)
The Religion of China (1913)
The Religion of India (1916-1917)
Ancient Judaism (1917)
These major works were based on the question: Why
did modern capitalism initially occur in the West and
not in other parts of the world? (Turner, Beeghley, and
Powers 1998:162-163)
Turner, Jonathan H., Leonard Beeghley, and Charles H. Powers. 1998. The Emergence
of Sociological Theory. 4th ed. Cincinnati, OH: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion

Review Handout

Webers Causal Argument


for the Emergence of
Capitalism

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion

The Protestant Ethic and the


Spirit of Capitalism is part of an
exercise in historical
hypothesis testing in which
Weber constructed a logical
experiment using ideal types
as conceptual tools.
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Max Weber:
Study of Religion

Theology has an
enormous impact on
behavior---even
economical and social
behavior.
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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
Occupational statistics in those nations of
mixed religious composition seemed to
show that those in higher socioeconomic
positions were overwhelmingly
Protestant.
Weber was not attempting to prove a
relationship between Protestantism and
economic success (that was a given), but
rather to explain the relationship.
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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
Weber developed a historical ideal type
called Spirit of Capitalism.
Capitalism This ideal
type has four components:
Work is valued as an end in itself
Trade and profit are indicators of personal
virtue
A methodically organized life governed by
reason indicates a righteous state of being
Delayed gratification is a virtue

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
Weber focused on the Calvinists
form or Protestantism
Calvinists theology/doctrine had four
consequences on the Spirit of
Capitalism:
Predestination
Lack of certainty of salvation created
inner loneliness and isolation
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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
People looked for signs of being among
the elect
Absolute duty to consider themselves chosen
Intense worldly activity creates self-
confidence
All believers were expected to lead
methodical and ascetic lives
unencumbered by irrational emotions,
superstitions, or desires of the flesh

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
Why did John Wesley call his group
Methodists?
Why do many evangelical and
fundamentalist groups have standards
and/or rules that appear rather strict?
No dancing
Avoid theaters, movies, dramas
No card playing, use of dice of any kind

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion
Among the Calvinist and many of the
other Protestant groups-----wealth was
automatically accumulated through
intense economic activity but was not
to be shown. The accumulation was to
be converted into sound assets.
The Amish are a perfect illustration of the
Spirit of Capitalism as studied by Weber.

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion

Even though the strict


nature of early Protestant
groups are all but
gone----the residues are
evident in todays society.

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Max Weber:
Study of Religion

Review Handout

Webers Quasi-
Experimental Design in
the Study of Religion

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Max Weber:
Class and Status
Class and Status
Method for studying stratification of
populations for sociological purposes.
Class
propertyand lack of property is
the basis of all class situations
Class is a type of socioeconomic category
Rational behavior

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Max Weber:
Class and Status
Status
Evaluations people make of one another
Rank order of desired behavior and
traits
Value-oriented behavior

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Max Weber:
Class and Status
Examples
If we use the class groups of low, blue collar, lower middle
class, middle class, upper middle class, wealthy and the
statuses of low, middle, high---what are the class and
status levels of the following:
College Presidents
Teachers
Medical Doctors
Investment Bankers
Pastors

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