Max Weber. SOCL/ANTH 302: Social Theory. Monday, March 26, by Ronald Keith Bolender

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1 Max Weber 1 SOCL/ANTH 302: Social Theory

2 Background Born in Thuringia, Germany (1864) Eldest of eight children Weber was a sickly child Suffered from physical and mental problems

3 Background 3 His Mother was a Calvinist and very religious. His father was a prominent liberal politician and civil servant.

4 Background 4 Parents had marriage problems because of different beliefs. Max Weber and his brother Alfred became sociologists and economists.

5 Max Weber Pronounced vey-bear

6 Max Weber 6 Sociology concerned with individuals, not just social structure Macro Micro

7 Max Weber: Social Action Sociology: Comprehensive science of social action Focus on individual human actors Differed from social-structural approach 7 For example: Spencer concentrated on evolution of society as analogous to an organism

8 Max Weber: Social Action 8 Durkheim s central concern: Maintaining the cohesion of social structures (social solidarity) Marx s focus: Conflicts between social classes

9 Max Weber: Social Action Weber s primary focus: The subjective meanings that human actors attach to their actions Within specific social-historical contexts 9 Behavior without meaning, is not in the purview of sociology

10 3/27 Max Weber: Social Action Four Major Types of Social Action 1. Rationally Purposeful or Goaloriented Rational Action Both goal and means are rationally chosen Example: Earning a college degree in order to get a good paying job 10

11 Max Weber: Social Action 2. Value-oriented Rational Action Working toward a goal, which may not be rational But is pursued through rational means Example: Going to college because you value learning and knowledge 11

12 Max Weber: Social Action 3. Emotional or Affective Action Motivated by emotional state (e.g., love, stress, revenge) Rather than rationally weighing means and ends Example: Going to college for the social life Because your boyfriend or girlfriend is attending that school 12

13 Max Weber: Social Action 4. Traditional Action Guided by customary habits of thought Example: Celebrating religious holidays Attending college because it s traditional for your family 13

14 Max Weber: Social Action Primarily concerned with modern Western society 14 Behavior increasingly dominated by goal-oriented rationality In the past: Motivated by tradition, affect, or value-oriented rationality

15 Max Weber: Ideal Types An ideal type not meant to refer to best or to a moral ideal e.g., ideal type brothel or ideal type chapel 15 Analytical construct that provides a basic method for comparative study

16 Max Weber: Ideal Types Identifies logically consistent features of social institution 16 Compare ideal type to reality Used to develop research hypotheses

17 Example of Ideal Type 17 Four characteristics of Ideal type Capitalism (economic system) 1. Private ownership Means of production 2. Pursuit of Profit 3. Competition 4. No government intervention

18 Max Weber: Authority Three modes of authority Authority is legitimate power 1. Legal-rational authority Based on impersonal rules Rules are legally enacted or contractually established Examples: Presidents, judges 18

19 Max Weber: Authority Traditional authority Based on belief in tradition Passed down generation to generation Examples: Aristocracy, Parents, Elders

20 Max Weber: Authority Charismatic authority Allegiance to leader Leader s characteristics Quality of individual's personality Examples: Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi

21 Max Weber: Bureaucracy Formal organization of large-scale enterprises for example: Government Military Economic Religious Educational 21

22 Max Weber: Bureaucracy Ideal-type Bureaucracy: Clearly defined division of labor Rationality Business-like attention to implementing goals of organization Impersonal application of rules 22 Routinization of tasks

23 Max Weber: Bureaucracy Major advantage Calculability of results Dysfunctions of bureaucracy Depersonalization Difficult to deal with individual cases Personnel are replaceable Information flows from top-down Tooker paintings illustrate rationality and modernity 23

24 Max Weber: Class, Status, and Party 24 Method for studying stratification of populations for sociological purposes Social Class (economic) property and lack of property is basis of all class situations Class is a type of socioeconomic category

25 Max Weber: Class, Status, and Party Status (social) Evaluations people make of one another Ranking desired behavior & traits Value-oriented behavior 25

26 Max Weber: Party 26 Parties (power) Associations of people that attempt to influence social action Working toward a goal in a planned manner (i.e., rationally)

27 Weber s Contribution to Sociology 27 Stratification theory (class, status, party) Bureaucracy & large scale organizations Legitimate authority Role of power Sociology of law Sociology of religion

28 Weber s Contribution to Sociology Theory and Methodology 28 verstehen helps in understanding why certain behaviors occur Social Action: Subjective meanings Values: Role in relationships

29 Weber s Contribution to Sociology 29 Multi-causality of Social Phenomena Complete Objectivity is Impossible Values & Value relevance

30 Weber s Contribution to Sociology 30 The Protestant Ethic & The Spirit of Capitalism Cultural barriers can prevent an economy from growing to its full potential Ex: religion

31 Weber s Contribution to Sociology Max Weber had a more powerful positive impact on a wide range of sociological theories than any other sociological theorist Created the German Association for Sociology (1909) Starting Point for Careers: Karl Mannheim, Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton and C. Wright Mills 31

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