Weber's works deal with rationalization in sociology
of religion, government, organizational theory,
and behavior. The process of rationalization affects economic
life, law, administration, and religion.
Rationalization makes ends of
means and imprisons the individual within the iron cage
of rationalized institutions, organizations, and activities.
Within symbolic interactionism, rationalization is used
more in the everyday sense of the word to refer to providing justifications or excuses for
one's actions. The term 'rationalization' has two specific meanings in sociology:
(1) The concept
'rationalization' was developed by German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) who used it in
First, rationalization was the
process through which magical, supernatural and religious ideas lose cultural importance
in a society and ideas based on science and practical calculation become dominant. For
example, in modern societies science has rationalized our understanding of weather
patterns. Science explains weather patterns as a result of interaction between physical
elements like wind-speed and direction, air and water temperatures, humidity, etc.
In some other cultures, weather
is thought to express the pleasure or displeasure of gods, or spirits of ancestors. One
explanation is rationalized and scientific, the other mysterious and magical.
Rationalization also involves
the development of forms of social organization
devoted to the achievement of precise goals by efficient means. It is this type of
rationalization that we see in the development of modern business corporations and of bureaucracy. These are organizations dedicated to the pursuit
of defined goals by calculated, systematically administered means.
(2) Within symbolic
interactionism, rationalization is used more in the everyday sense of the word to refer to
providing justifications or excuses for one's actions.
Max Weber's Types of
Rationality: Cornerstones for the Analysis of Rationalization Processes in History.
- Kalberg, Stephen
American Journal of Sociology, v85 n5 p1145-79 Mar 1980
Abstract: Explores rationality in Max Weber's works and identifies four types of
rationality which play major roles in his writing, which are practical, theoretical,
substantive, and formal.
Vanished Vediators: On the Residual Status of Judges in Max Weber's Theory of
Legal Rationalization - Sahni, Isher-Paul. Paper presented at the annual meeting
of the American Sociological Association.
Abstract: The centrality of judges in Max Webers theory of legal rationalization and
their residual status in his Sociology of Law are
discussed. The vital role he assigns to judges is exposed by privileging his frequently
overlooked discussion of the anti-formalistic tendencies in modern law. Their neglect in
his comparative examination of the Continental and the
English administrations of justice is explained by foregrounding the influence exerted on
him by the ideals of Pandectist jurisprudence, as revealed in his Critique of Stammler,
and by the politico-legal context in which he wrote, as evinced by his assessment of the
Free Law Movement.
The City: Rationalization and freedom in Max Weber - DOMINGUES J. M.
Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Department of Sociology, Rio de Janeiro, BRESIL
Philosophy & social criticism ISSN 0191-4537 2000, vol. 26, no4, pp. 107-126 (1 p.3/4)
Abstract: This article argues that it can however provide fresh insights into some key
problems of Weber's diagnosis of modernity and into his general sociological theory,
especially as to his action theory and creativity. A more
open-ended conception of modernity can be gained from its analysis, which is more
compatible with Weber's own methodology.
A Subjective Universal: Max Weber and the Modern-Postmodern Divide -
Thibodeaux, Jarrett. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological
Association Annual Meeting.
Abstract: Looking at Webers methodology and concept of rationalization, I explore
how his writings relate to modernism and postmodernism. I find that Weber was a postmodernist or minimalist in methodology because of his
desire for many narratives rather than one grand narrative. However, in terms of his
concept of rationalization he was a modernist/universalist in that he saw rationalization,
in how one attempted to achieve a goal, as objectively decipherable and that this
objectivity was specific to modern western culture.
The Conflict between
Methodology and Rationalization in the Work of Max Weber
Lars Udehn, Department of Sociology, Uppsala
Acta Sociologica, Vol. 24, No. 3, 131-147 (1981)
Max Weber is the leading representative of an interpretive
theory in sociology aiming at an explanation in terms of the motives of the acting
individuals. He is also the proponent of the thesis that the Western world is moving in
the direction of increasing rationalization, held by many to be the uniting theme of his
work. It is the thesis of this paper that there is a conflict between these two themes in
Weber's work. The process of rationalization ends in an 'iron cage' of bureaucratic
The Dialectics of Religious Rationalization and Secularization: Max Weber and Ernst Bloch, Warren S.
Goldstein - Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Central Florida.
Critical Sociology, Vol. 31, No. 1-2, 115-151 (2005)
Both Weber and Bloch engaged in a class analysis of the Bible. In Ancient Judaism, Weber
provides the historical, political, and socio-economic context in which we can understand
the origins of the belief in the Messiah. Bloch's dialectical theory of secularization of
Judeo-Christian Messianism into Marxism has a parallel structure to Weber's theory of
religious rationalization in Ancient Judaism. For Weber, ancient Judaism experienced a
process of religious rationalization that is marked by dialectics
between the charisma of the prophet and the tradition of the priest, between value and
substantive rationality, between disaster and salvation. Combining elements from Weber's
theory of religious rationalization and Bloch's theory of secularization, provides the
basis for a dialectical theory of secularization in which the tensions between the sacred and profane, while driving the process of
secularization forward, remain unresolved.
The Rationalization of Everything? Using Ritzers McDonaldization Thesis to
Teach Weber, Stephen Lippmann, Howard Aldrich - Department of Sociology,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Todays students have grown up in a world structured by the forces of
rationalization, making it difficult for them to comprehend the scope and magnitude of the
transformations Weber described.
Max Weber ( 1998; 1946) argued that the process of rationalization, once unleashed
upon the world, transformed social life forever. By loosening the hold of custom and
tradition, rationalization led to new practices that were chosen because they were
efficient, rather than customary. Weber argued that because of the technical
superiority of the bureaucratic form, it would come to dominate all forms of human
organization like an iron cage in which humans were eternally trapped. Webers ideas
continue to inform sociological theories today.
Students have grown up in a world structured by the forces of rationalization, and thus
they often have difficulty comprehending the scope and magnitude of the transformations
Judicial Reform and Rationalization: The Diffusion of Court Reform Policies Among
the American States, J M Scheb ; A R Matheny - Journal: Law and Policy
Volume:10 Issue:1 Dated:(January 1988) Pages:25-42
Abstract: Explaining the diffusion of judicial reform policies among the American States
is an elusive task. It begins with Max Weber's sociology of law from which his concept of
rationalization is adopted as a schema of policy development. According to Weber, the
'rationalization' of legal institutions would accompany the advancement of capitalism in modernizing nations. Thus, it is expected that
specific judicial reform policies expressly aimed at rationalizing the structure and
process of State court systems be closely associated with each other and with commonly
accepted indicators of economic development among the States. Court reforms are related to
broader policy innovations among the States, drawing on earlier 'diffusion of innovations'
research. The data indicate a strong connection between judicial reform and more general
patterns of innovation diffusion among the States, but provide only modest support for
Weber's assertions about the rationalization of legal systems under advancing capitalism.
Weber's concept of rationalization and the electronic revolution in western
Journal Qualitative Sociology, Publisher Springer Netherlands
ISSN 0162-0436 (Print) 1573-7837 (Online) Issue Volume 1, Number 3 / January, 1979
Valerie Ann Malhotra, Department of Sociology, Texas Woman's University, USA
Abstract In examining the electronic revolution in Western Classical music, this article
considers many of the important issues which Weber addresses in his work on the sociology
of musicparticularly the definitional problems related to Weber's concept of
rationalization and the disenchantment of the world. The article examines Weber's concepts
of rational action and rationalization in relation to music, then through analysis of
developments in electronic music, raises questions regarding Weber's conclusions regarding
the effect of rationalization in Western culture.