MaxWeber One of the fathers of Sociology
Brief Introduction German philosopher, political economist and sociologist who together with Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim are considered to be the fathers of Sociology. Not easy to comprehend his work in one or two lectures therefore we will stick to the basics. In order to grasp a bit of his work we need to understand a few new terms.
Understanding WeberEmpiricism Empiricism Knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition ore revelation.
Understanding WeberInterpretivism Antipositivism or Interpretivism • In order to understand society you need to reject empiricism and to try to understand the interpretation of why things are happening the way they do.
Understanding WeberEmpiricism VsInterpretivism • Quantitative Research (Empiricism) • Qualitative Research (Interpretivism) • Research should concentrate on human cultural norms, values, symbols, and social processes viewed from a resolutely subjective perspective.
Understanding WeberSocial Action • The concept was primarily developed in the non-positivist theory of Max Weber to observe how human behaviors relate to cause and effect in the social realm. For Weber, sociology is the study of society and behavior and must therefore look at the heart of interaction.
Understanding WeberSocial Action • The theory of social action, more than structural functionalist positions, accepts and assumes that humans vary their actions according to social contexts and how it will affect other people; when a potential reaction is not desirable, the action is modified accordingly. Action can mean either a basic action (one that has a meaning) or an advanced social action, which not only has a meaning but is directed at other actors and causes action (or, perhaps, inaction).
Understanding WeberSocial Action Types of social action • Rational Actions - actions which are taken because it leads to a valued goal, but with no thought of its consequences and often without consideration of the appropriateness of the means chosen to achieve it (the end justifies the means)
Understanding WeberSocial Action Types of social action • Instrumental Actions - actions which are planned and taken after evaluating the goal in relation to other goals, and after thorough consideration of various means (and consequences) to achieve it
Understanding WeberSocial Action Types of social action • Affection / Emotional actions • Rational choice theorists, on the other hand, believe that all social action is rationally motivated. Rationality means that the actions taken are analyzed and calculated for the greatest amount of (self)-gain and efficiency
Understanding WeberSocial Action Types of actions Traditional Actions - actions which are carried out due to tradition, because they are always carried out in a particular manner for certain situations.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism VS Historical Materialism Contrary to Marx’s idea of “Historical Materialism” Weber supported the idea that the Protestant reformation fuelled capitalism. Historical Materialism • 1. The basis of human society is how humans work on nature to produce the means of subsistence. • 2. There is a division of labour into social classes (relations of production) based on property ownership where some people live from the labour of others.
Historical Materialism - Marx • 3. The system of class division is dependent on the mode of production. • 4. The mode of production is based on the level of the productive forces.
Historical Materialism - Marx • 5. Society moves from stage to stage when the dominant class is displaced by a new emerging class, by overthrowing the "political shell" that enforces the old relations of production no longer corresponding to the new productive forces. This takes place in the superstructure of society, the political arena in the form of revolution, whereby the underclass "liberates" the productive forces with new relations of production, and social relations, corresponding to it.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Catholic approach: • “Do your best but above all wait for your eternal salvation” • Eternal Salvation through the church Protestant approach: • Do your best and this will be obvious in your every day life • Eternal Salvation through a personal relationship with God (pious living / reinvest+ the elected ones / material wealth a sign of salvation / “Spirit of Capitalism”)