By: Marissa Madrigal, Beau Hindman, Amy Wrenn
Born in Thuringia, Germany (1864)
Was the eldest of eight children
Weber was a sickly child
- suffer from physical and mental torment
His father was a prominent liberal politician and
His Mother was a moderate Calvinist and very
Parents were refugees from catholic persecution
Parents had marriage problems because of different
Both Weber and his brother Alfred became a
sociologists and economists.
•At age of fourteen he was writing essays about references
to Homer, Virgil, Cicero, and Livy.
•Age eighteen he entered University of Heidelberg
•He was shy and thin, his shyness quickly
disappeared when he enter a dueling fraternity.
•With this he started to drink large quantities of beer
He was engage for 6 yrs with his cousin Emmy , ended it
because of mentally and physical problems
Age eighteen he entered University of Heidelberg
•He was shy and thin, his shyness quickly
disappeared when he enter a dueling fraternity.
•With this he started to drink large quantities of beer
From time to time he would served with the German army in
In 1884, he returned and study at the university of Berlin.
He also attended University of Goettingen but was once again
interrupted for military training.
In 1893 he married his distant cousin Marianne
◦ She was later a feminist
◦ She collected and published Weber's journal articles as
books after his death
After his fathers death, Weber became prone to
nervousness and insomnia. He developed psychological
problems and was institutionalized in a sanitarium.
◦ Took over 5years to recover
He was encourage to write
◦ In 1903 he became co-editor of the “archiv fuer
◦ This became the leading social science journal in
He resumed his teaching duties during WWI
In 1904, he visited the U.S, which helped him with his
recovery and was fascinated by America.
◦ He delivered an essay bout the social structure in Germany
in St. Louis for the congress of arts and sciences.
Between 1892 and 1905 he wrote a series of essay and
speeches, which it address to the failure of German idealism.
- this articles dealt with the social and economic
conditions in eastern Germany.
- his works were rarely published during his lifetime.
- his works slowly got translated in English.
In 1905, “The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism,”
War broke out
◦ Weber was the first German to opposed to it
◦ Criticized the ineffectiveness of German leadership
The last few years of his life, he became very political.
◦ Wrote many political newspaper articles.
◦ He was founding member of and active campaigner
for the newly organized “deutsche demokratische
◦ There was proposals to make him a candidate for
presidency of the republic failed.
Max Weber died of Pneumonia in June 14, 1920
◦ The religion of china: Confucianism and Taoism
◦ The religion of India: the sociology of Hinduism and
◦ The sociology of religion (1921)
Adolescent: Greek and Latin classics
◦ Homer, Virgil, Cicero & Livy
Influences on his work:
August Comte (1798-1857)
◦ Believed in “Hierarchy of Science”:
Each science is dependent upon the other
This hierarchy ranges from the simplest to more complex forms
The sciences above rely on the sciences below, therefore he
believed that the sciences on top, such as sociology were more
abstract and difficult then those on the bottom.
• Weber disagreed with this theory: He believed there could be as
many sciences as needed. “A method must advance knowledge
rather than be faithful to an imaginary ideal of cognition”.
Weber’s Methodological approach was influenced by the ideas from
Nietzsche & Marx
◦ Influence evident in Weber’s sociology of ideas and
material & ideal interests dictate and individual’s conduct
World Images are a product of created ideas that an individual has
Social action is governed by the dynamic of individual interests
◦ Weber believed ideas had a greater significance than
Nietzsche & Marx thought
◦ Marx’s belief that ideas were expressions of public
interest and that they served as weapons in the struggle
between classes and political parties also heavily
◦ Weber and Marx agreed that modern methods of the
organization increased efficiency and effectiveness of
production, but it “threatens to dehumanize its
◦ Economic Order: Weber did not agree with Marx
Marx: Economic order was determined by class struggle and
owners of production
Weber: believed the character of political power and the
effect of the military also played important roles in
determining power relationships.
The protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism:- was a reaction
to Marx’s metaphysical view, “that all events of civilization are
reducible to a single cause, namely the economic order.
◦ Weber’s theories: Stratification and economic
behavior are rooted from the Marxian economics of
◦ Weber saw democratic ideals come from the
Marxian revolutionary ideology.
◦ A lot of Weber’s work was influenced by Marx.
◦ Analysis of Psychological Mechanisms: Ideas
become rationalizations to use as private
aspirations or power and mastery.
Both Nietzsche and Weber worried about the future
and the 20th Century. They thought it would be full of
tyranny and horror.
A lot of Weber’s work was influenced by Nietzsche.
Kant & the Neo-Kantians
◦ Neo-Kantianism: “was a broad cultural movement
focused on an intellectual critique of the currents of
positivism, naturalism & materialism which followed
the aftermath of the decline of German idealism”.
Autonomy of the Individual
Became critical of social domination (Gov)
◦ Weber: strongly identified with neo-kantian
movement because of his Germany
Proposed a unified Germany where all people worked
toward the German national mission.
He demonstrated the advantages of the rational,
methodical ethic of work (rational capitalism)
considered as one of the "founding fathers"
of modern sociology
◦ his work is considered to be complex, varied, and
open to subjective interpretation
"method" employed by Weber
◦ recognized advantage sociologists had over natural
scientists, due to the fact that they cannot gain
insight to the behavioral patterns of the phenomena
they study (example: cannot empathize with the
function of an electron or chemical compound)
◦ method derives from studying the context of the
phenomenon but also empathizing with the
◦ critiqued as being little more than intuition - an
overly soft and subjective method
Weber insisted that it's a rational procedure involving
Weber defined sociology as the study of
social action between individuals (action
defined as meaningful, purposive behavior)
◦ This is in contrast to Durkheim's impression of
society as "structures that function apart from
human purpose and will"
◦ Individual action treated as the basic unit of
Zweckrational - means to attain a particular goal are
◦ example: person pursues college degree to hopefully
obtain a job that grants financial security
Wertrational - striving for a goal which may not be
rational, but is pursued by rational means
◦ example: person follows teachings of a prophet, or lives
a certain way in hopes of receiving "eternal salvation"
Affective action - action via emotional means
◦ example: person attends a particular college because
their significant other is enrolled there
Traditional action - actions are guided by customary
◦ example: person doesn't really consider college- they
have always known it will happen, because their family
always has gone/will go
Weber maintained that human social action in
general has become more formally rational,
or careful, planned, and by deliberately
matching means to ends
Claimed that only in modern societies does
formal rationality exist in all spheres of social
A sort of measuring rod, devised of the most
"logically consistent" features of a
◦ example: ideal capitalism has four components-
private ownership, pursuit of profit, competition,
and laissez-faire economics
Weber never explicitly elaborated on
rationalization, but it's a theme that's been
noted from multiple specific studies
◦ The world is becoming increasingly rational.
shed light on rationalization via cross-cultural analysis
◦ Weber considered modern capitalism to be the root
motivation of rationalization
the motivation for maximum profits required rational
reasoning to develop efficiency
Practical rationality - characterized by acceptance of given
realities or constraints in society, and simply calculating the
best way to deal with them (opposed to threatening to alter
the daily routine)
Theoretical rationality - attempt to master reality,
characterized by transcending daily realities in pursuit of
enlightenment such as the "meaning of life"
Substantive rationality - courses of action are determined by
a value system in which behaviors are limited
Formal rationality - courses of action are determined by
"universally applied rules, laws, and regulation"
◦ Weber saw formal rationality as leading to the "Iron Cage"-
rational and established rules prevent individuals from deviating
Weber defined bureaucracies as "goal-oriented organizations
designed according to rational principles in order to
efficiently attain the stated goals"
◦ Weber saw the formation and execution of bureaucracies as
necessary to complex societies
the ideal bureaucracy has these characteristics:
official business is conducted on a continuous basis
business is conducted in accordance with stipulated rules
every official's responsibility and authority are part of a hierarchy of
officials do not own the resources necessary for them to perform their
assigned functions, but they are accountable for the use of those
offices cannot be appropriated by their incumbents in the sense of
property that can be inherited or sold
official business is conducted on the basis of written documents
Weber thought it was important to go beyond
simply recording events like historians, by
also explaining the reasons behind them
Weber decided that causal certainty was
impossible, and that the best way to measure
causality was by probability
Human actions cannot be explained in terms
of absolute "laws" such as cause and effect.
To grasp the meaning of human actions
would require a different method from any
known to, or required by, practitioners of
The social scientist's own moral, political, or
aesthetic values will enter into their
conclusions in a way that those of the natural
scientist's do not
According to Weber, values play a crucial role before,
during, and after social research
He strongly thought teachers must keep their
personal values out of the classroom
However, he thought that scholars have a perfect
right to include their values
◦ "Students should be presented with the facts; attendees
at a conference, or some other public gathering, expect
to hear opinionated comments supported by facts"
Weber believed that quantitative, empirical studies
cannot tell people what they "ought" to do.
◦ Power: the ability to impose one's will onto another,
even when the other objects.
◦ Authority: legitimate power, power that is exercised
with the consent of the ruled
Rational-legal authority - established via impersonal, rational
rules that have been legally enacted (possibly by contract)
◦ Example: U.S.
Traditional authority - power is traditionally transmitted from
generation to generation, by inheritance or appointment
◦ Example: Monarchies
Charismatic authority - based on the appeal of figures who
claim to possess extraordinary virtuosity
◦ Naturally unstable because power is with the individual
◦ Weber was one of the first who treated authority as characteristic
of the relation between leaders and followers
Weber's view of inequality was heavily derived
◦ Believed that social stratification will always be
reduced to the "haves" and "have nots“
Certain individuals can bridge the gap (like priests)
Weber's best-known work
Traced the impact of Protestantism (primarily
◦ Believed to be one of the most powerful forces
behind capitalism, though not exclusively
Profit as a moral crusade - legitimated inequality
Found nations with comparable technology and
infrastructure lacked the cultural (religious)
Had a nationalistic attitude, supported the
assimilation of all minority groups rather than
◦ Not a racist, though- believed minorities could
reach their potential if fully assimilated
Long-time friend and supporter of Georg Simmel, a
Jew who was discriminated against while trying for a
full-time position as a teacher
Weber was "the most tolerant liberal thinker Germany
could offer at the time"
Made a trip to America and sensed racial tension,
foreshadowing an outbreak of riots
“Max Weber has had a more powerful positive impact
on a wide range of sociological theories than any
other sociological theorist…Weber’s work
represents a remarkable fusion of historical
research and sociological theorizing” (Ritzer)
Created the German Association for Sociology (1909)
Starting Point for Careers:
Karl Mannheim, Han Speier, Hans Gerth, Talcott Parsons,
Robert Merton and C. Wright Mills.
His work had theoretical and methodological concepts
that when combined with his scholarship brought
historical data into “ a new and sharper focus”
Many significant trends of work were started
◦ Stratification theory, study of bureaucracy and large
scale organization, the study of legitimate
authority, the role of power, the sociology of law,
the sociology of politics, the sociology of religion
and the sociology of music.
George Ritzer- The McDonaldization of
◦ Shows the relevancy of Weber’s terms
Ex: bureaucracy and rationalization
“For Weber, the model of rationalization was the
bureaucracy, whereas for Ritzer, the fast-food restaurant
serves as the paradigm of McDonaldization”
Ex: irrationality of rationality
Weber: “Iron Cage” syndrome
In today’s society sociologist have identified many
dysfunctions of the bureaucracies
In Ritzer’s book “he believes that a bureaucracy is like a
fast-food restaurant because they both create a
dehumanizing work environment.”
Robert Reich: The Work of Nations
◦ Builds onto Weber’s work:
Believes we are moving from bureaucracies toward new
kinds of organizations. He provides the “global web” as
Bureaucracies may be a thing of the past, and they are
a source of frustration for many.
◦ Contributed a lot to sociological theory and
His concept verstehen is still used today: it helps in
understanding why some certain behaviors occur.
Social Action: subjective meanings that humans attach to
their interactions with one another
Values: people hold play important role in relationships.
◦ Multicausality of Social Phenomenon:
There are multiple social forces that affect everyone all
The more variables research can control the better
Complete Objectivity is Impossible
◦ Values & Value relevance
The Protestant Ethic & The Spirit of
◦ Certain cultural barriers can prevent an economy
from growing or expanding to its full potential
◦ Globalization: without change in cultural attitudes
poor societies won’t reach their economic potential
Social Class and Inequality
◦ His beliefs in social stratification variables are
Ex: have-have nots; labels of We-They
Realism vs. Idealism
◦ Idealist-> believed no particular reality existed
Realism vs. Nominalism
◦ Realist-> Social action, though an abstract concept,
has real consequences
Idealism vs. Materialsm
◦ Both… sought material consequences during a
period of German Idealism BUT Weber’s concept of
Protestantism shaping capitalism started with the
abstract ideas of Protestantism, and ended with the
material consequences of capitalism