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Gerald Cupchik

SOCB43 – Lecture #1 – 2014-Jan-16 Max Weber  Life  born in 1964, oldest of seven children, father was middle-high class, his mother came from a similar background o Not known as a great student when he was younger, joined the military as required in university, and became very close to his uncle, that is important because his uncle has more intellectual than his parents o Fell in love with his uncle’s daughter, his cousin, engaged for 6 years, but due to his fiancée’s both mental and physical illness, their engagement eventually ended o Went back to Berlin and live with his parents for a while, became a lawyer then a professor o Eventually he did became married, although there is not real values in that marriage o Became famous after he awoke from his loveless marriage and affair, his career worked great but had a fight with his father when he came to visit, his father died a month later, Weber had a mental meltdown and did not recover for 5 years o Later in his life Weber started to study religions and ethics again, and study how spiritual values shapes how people lived  Sociology as science  sociology as a science in action, to understand the logic of society, one has to understand how we do things, what motivates people, what their values are o Why do people do the things they are doing?  structure of organization? what do they hope to obtain from doing what they are doing? o To do sociology, we need to understand the subjective meaning, subjective motivation o How to study the subjective meaning of people’s action in a systematic way; they are very different  in order to do that, one needs a theory of action  Theory of action tells you what types of action there are, if you know that, you know to look for what people are doing; you need a theory of things that people do; Weber distinguishes four major types of action, however that is not to say that those are the only four types of action, one may find a mixed aspect of what they are doing;  Four types of theory of action  goal, means to achieve the goal o Purposive rationality (goal–oriented, teleological)  a person who doesn’t care about what the consequences, but simply to achieve the goal in the most efficient way, what matters is the outcome (for example, a student beating another student for lunch money is an example); purposive action is focused on the consequences o Value-oriented rationality  it’s something that seems nonsense, but has a structure of value and meaning to it, if you accept the value, then it makes sense for people to do what they do (defending of value); value- oriented rationality does not care about the consequences, committed to the value o Affective  emotional conditions of the people doing it; out of anger, sadness, etc.; there is no rationality to it, not thought through o Traditional  actions are based on taken for granted customs, although it may not make a lot of sense otherwise, but it is based on a tradition or custom; no values involved, nor emotional  Two major reasons to make these distinctions o It makes systematic typological distinctions  classifies a whole range of social life based on the types of actions o Historical development  helps understand how history changes overtime based on the four typologies o Weber found out that overtime the last two types of actions are fading, what remains more are the first two; there are more cold calculations, rationalization has been the dominant theme in life; it is more about purposive and value-oriented rationality  Natural vs. social science o Positivists  this approach says we approach something under scientific way when we can find a general law; the basic idea of this approach claims if we can find the laws of something happening  What Weber said against positivist approach is that human beings cannot be understand just using outside behavior, you cannot understand human without understanding their meaning o Historicists  this approach claims that there is no regularity in human beings, because we are free, we make decisions that may never be explained fully by any law, it would be foolish to drawing out laws, all scientists can do is to find what are the historical reasons that affected what happened  What Weber counteracted historicist approach is that he claims science has to use general laws, there should be a systematic way of understanding things o In general, social science can understand deeper about the world than scientists can, because social scientists tries to understand the world in a more meaningful way, which is why he came up with the third approach o Verstehen  interpretive  you have to understand people’s mind, what they want, what motivates them  Direct interpretation  more of historicist way, step 1 of interpretation 
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