Sunday, April 23, 2017

Max Weber's analysis of social action

Max Weber (1864-1920) is an influential sociologist known for the analysis of social action through interpreting the meaning individuals attach to their actions. This process is known as methodological positivism. Along with Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx, Weber is widely regarded as one of the three founders of modern sociology. Political scientist Sung Ho Kim said,
Weber's wide-ranging contributions gave critical impetus to the birth of new academic disciplines such as sociology and public administration as well as to the significant reorientation in law, economics, political science, and religious studies. (Max Weber, 2012)
The rest of this post is three quotes from Weber describing his philosophy of society.

Analysis of society

"This striving becomes understood completely as an end in itself- to such an extent that it appears as fully outside the normal course of affairs and simply irrational, at least when viewed from the perspective of the 'happiness' or 'utility' of the single individual. Here, people are oriented to acquisition as the purpose of life; acquisition is no longer viewed as a means to the end of satisfying the substantive needs of life." (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1905)

"The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world. Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations." (Science as a Vocation, 1917)

"Sociology is the science whose object is to interpret the meaning of social action and theryeby give a causal explanation of the way in which the action proceeds and the effects which it produces. By 'action' in this definition is meant the human behaviour when and to the extent that the agent or agents see it as subjectively meaningful" (The Nature of Social Action, 1922)

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