Sociology Index

Max Weber

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. 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.

Weber also contributed to the sociology of comparative religions (1951; 1952; 1958a), urban sociology (1958b), the sociology ot music (1958c), economic history (1950), the sociology of law (1922; 1977), and the analysis of ancient civilization (1976). Recent interpretations by sociologists of Weber have emphasized his contribution to cultural sociology and his critical attitude towards capitalist modernization. According to him, 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).