Max Weber – the Life and Work of a Social Theorist (1864-1920)


Max Weber is a German political economist and sociologist. Weber is considered as among the leading figures in a unique generation of historic political economists in the Germany of the 1890s. Max Weber was born in April 21, 1864, in Erfurt, Prussia. After early research in the history of commercial law, Weber established himself as among the leading figures in a unique generation of historic political economists in the Germany of the 1890s.

In 1895 Weber “became a full professor in political economy at Freiburg, and then, in the following year, at Heidelberg” (Max Weber, n.d.).

A individual breakdown in 1898 led to his with¬drawal from educational training, but did little to impair the flow of his writing, the range of which was massive. Its unifying focus was a concern with all the mutual relationship between legal, political and cultural formations found on the 1 hand, and financial activity found on the alternative. His concern with these issues became increas¬ingly theoretical, involving a systematization of the main categories of social and political existence, both universally and as definitive of the certain character of contemporary western civilization.

Weber prepared his initial standing in Ger¬many with a research of the impact of capitalist company found on the agricultural estates east of the Elbe, as well as its implications for the continued dominance of the Junkers over Germany’s political lifetime. It is for a much wider research, though, of the origins of capitalism itself, that he is ideal acknowledged “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, 1904-1985. The uninten¬ded result of the ethic, which was enforced by the social and emotional pres¬sures found on the believer to confirm his salvation, was the accumulation of wealth for investment.

The important ques¬tion about his thesis is whether the work of wage labour that created limitless accumu¬lation possible in principle, furthermore created it inevitable in practice; whether, that is, the Protestant ethic ought to be enjoyed as providing a essential motivation for capitalist accumu¬lation, or somewhat a legitimation for it in the face of common values favouring conspicuous con¬sumption found on the piece of the leisured class.

Weber was just comparatively late in his lifetime that he came to consider his work as ‘sociology’, and it happens to be as among the ‘founding fathers’ of sociology that he is today acknowledged. “These characteristic attributes of German politics during this period are focused in the character of Max Weber, Germany’s many great political theorist during this epoch” (Mayer, 1957, p.13. Introductory).

The matter is possibly impossible to solve conclu¬sively, since all later examples of capitalist take-off have been influenced by the impact of the authentic 1. The theoretical value of Weber’s work, but, lies in the challenge it provides to reductionist tries to treat inspirations as merely the reflection of information interests, instead of as mutually interacting with them, or to supply an account of social change without reference to the motivation of the social agents associated, despite that the consequences can not be what they intend.
“The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” (1904-1905) was just the initial of the amount of functions found on the financial ethic of the main globe religions; the purpose of these wasn’t, because has been reported, to confirm the capitalist spirit thesis by showing its absence elsewhere, but very to elucidate the distinctive character of contemporary western rationalism (Weber, 1958). According to Weber, “instrumental rationality” was a universal character¬istic of social action, just in the contemporary West had the goal-maximizing calculation of the many effective signifies to provided ends become gene¬ralized.

Weber believed that social hierarchy was inevitable, and that its analysis lay in the relationship to be found between your analytically distinct dimen¬sions of status, property and political or organizational force. Different societies can be recognized by the predominance of 1 dimension over the others. If in early capitalism this was property, in advanced capitalism it was organizational force. It was the imperatives of the latter that determined the subordination of the worker at the workplace, not those of property, and such subordination would consequently continue under a program of social ownership.

In Weberian political sociology, alongside the ‘tradi¬tional’ and ‘rational’ principles of legitimacy was a 3rd principle, the ‘charismatic’. This indicated an authority deriving from die individual of the leader himself and the compelling energy of his content, instead of from custom or the rules governing a certain workplace. It was a especially innovative, non-routinized force in social lifetime.

Crucial consequently to asserting control over bureaucratic management and securing innovation in face of its conservative tenden¬cies, was to confirm range for the charismatic principle in the political task. Weber believed this might be provided by the circum¬stances of mass electoral politics. He observed how elections under universal suffrage were becoming a shape of plebiscite for or from the party leaders, and were improving their range for determining plan over the heads of the individual parliamentary representatives and the party following.

“The Protestant morality that he had come to accept as inescapable fate came under attack within the youth movement, from avant-garde literary circles including the 1 centred found on the poet Stefan George, from Neoromantics influenced by Nietzsche and Freud, and from Slavic cultural ideals, exemplified in Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (Max Weber, n.d.).

Underlying Weber’s conception of democ¬racy as a process for producing political leadership lay a simple philosophical assumption that political principles or values couldn’t be grounded in reason or in the historic procedure, but were issues of subjective dedication and assertion. In their work Hilton and Turner write: ‘Weber and the Austrian School are not obliged to deny the fact of organizations or the idea that actors can act under institutional constraints, or that this constraint will be experienced as an exterior compulsive force or important. Nor want they hold to a social contract or shape theory of institutions” (Hilton and Turner, 1989, p.43).

He defined bureaucracy as a program of management embodying the following characteristics: hier¬archy (each official has a clearly defined competence and is answerable to a superior); impersonality (the work is performed according to set rules, without arbitrariness or favouritism, along with a created record is kept of every transaction); continuity (the workplace constitutes a full-time salaried career, with protection of tenure and the prospect of normal advancement); expertise (officials are chosen on merit, are trained for their function, and control access to the knowledge stored in the files).

In 1914, Weber completed “Economy and society”. Central feature of Weber’s review of socialism was that the attempt to substitute the ‘anarchy’ of the marketplace and achieve better equality through social planning would involve a massive expansion of bureaucratic force, and therefore of unfreedom and financial stagnation. Swedberg describes that Weber singles out 3 levels: “financial phenomena, economically relevant phenomena and economically conditioned phenomena” He writes: “The initially of these categories covers financial phenomena in a strict sense, like financial occasions and financial institutions; and Weber has small to state about this category except that it involves phenomena ‘the financial aspects of which constitute their main cultural importance for us'” (Swedberg 1998, p. 18-19)

Sociological theory has been interested in bureaucracy as a social category, representative of the new center class, and distinct from both capital and labour. As Max Weber place it: “The individual bureaucrat cannot squirm from the apparatus into which he has been harnessed. (…) He is just a tiny cog in a ceaselessly moving device which prescribes to him an basically fixed route of march” (Weber, 1958). This really is frequently called Weber’s iron cage. It can be done t conclude that “Weber’s biggest merit as a thinker was that he brought the social sciences in Germany, hitherto preoccupied mostly with nationwide difficulties, into direct important confrontation with all the global leaders of 19th-century European thought Marx and Nietzsche” (Max Weber, n.d.).

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