Sociology Index

Max Weber

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Among distinguished sociologists, Max Weber provided a systematic statement of the conceptual framework of the sociological perspective and developed a coherent philosophy of social science, which recognized the essential problems of explanation of social action. Max Weber also contributed to the sociology of religion, urban sociology, the sociology ot music, economic history, the sociology of law, and the analysis of ancient civilization. The major German text, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (1922), published posthumously has been translated as Economy and Society (1968).

Verstehen is associated with the writing of Max Weber, which is now seen as a concept and a method central to a rejection of Positive School. He argued for an interpretive theory in sociology that uses concepts to understand the meaning people attach to their actions.

Max Weber’s Economy and Society is the foundational text for the social sciences, presenting a framework for understanding the relations among individual action, social action, economic action, and economic institutions. Max Weber’s Economy and Society also provides a classification of political forms based upon 'systems of rule' and 'rulership' that has shaped debate about the nature and role of charisma, tradition, legal authority, and bureaucracy.

Max Weber was regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, and his ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Max Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside David Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

Max Weber pushed the boundaries of sociology and argued extensively for research based on interpretation and observation rather than just an empiricist approach. His major work was 'The Protestant Ethic' and the 'Spirit of Capitalism' in which he suggested that the rise of Protestant church led to the modern capitalist system. He argued a need to understand social ideas within western religion in understanding market systems. Recent interpretations by sociologists of Weber have emphasized his contribution to cultural sociology and his critical attitude towards capitalist modernization.

According to Max Weber, social scientists could use concepts called ideal-types, a sort of measuring stick that captures the most rational and most essential components of any social thing. Ideal-types can be based on historical events, like the spirit of capitalism. Ideal-types allow for the use of verstehen, or the interpretive understanding of the subjective motivations individuals attach to their actions. Weber's contribution to modern social science include: (i) philosophy of social science (1949; 1975); (2) rationalization (1922; 1930); (3) the Protestant ethic thesis (1930); (4) Weber's relationship to Marx and Marxism (1922); (5) his analysis of power politics in relation to German society (1946; 1978).