SOCB43H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Georg Simmel
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LECTURE WEEK 2
1. Max weber
b. Sociology as a science of an action
c. Natural is social science
•Defined as a separate discipline
•Trying to create a new formalized bureaucratized official scientific discipline.
•What is the modern world? These topics are selected by the authors to address
•Capitalism and bureaucracy.
•Simmel: greatest theorist of modern city. More people live in modern cities. Also
analyst of individuality.
•Max weber: what power consists off
•Born 1864 oldest 7 children.
•Lots of political literary cultural people surrounding him.
•He joined the military and became close to his aunt and uncle that were
encouraging of his intellectual pursuits. Engaged to his cousin.
•Moved back to berlin, was a student, a lawyer for a while then studying to
become a professor.
•Financially dependent on his parents. Resents his father. He’s a workaholic.
•He became a monk for a while?
•Mariane weber, his wife. Leading intellectual.
•Had an affair in his 40s. Started to write about the spiritual value about eroticism
and sex and extra marital sex.
•His father’s death, he had a mental breakdown for 5 years.
•1903, his powers returned, got back to work. He founded intellectual journals
devoted to sociology. He began to write the methological documents.
•WW1. Weber had nationalist sympathies for Germany. He says it’s a great and
•Science as a location.
•How our spiritual values guide our arbitrary practices
•The truth is the truth.
Sociology is a science of action
•To understand the logic of society. That is its aim.
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•You have to understand human beings doing things in reference to one another
and in particular, what motivates people. What their values are. Concerns in life
•Why are people doing things the way they are? Understand their motives. Look at
patterns, symbols, and sequences. Study that and think about the structure of the
organization or why they are there. What they hope to get out of the experience.
Where do certain ideas come from? The consequences of actions? He takes
peoples ideas and motivations seriously.
•Durkheim interested in the structure of institution.
•Weber looks at the subjective meaning to understand why people are attached to
the things they do.
•Sociology is about the science of action.
•There are a lot of people in the world. How do you study that in a systematic
way? How do you understand the meaning and reasons that drive people to do
•You need a theory of action. What it means and what its basis is
Theory of action
•What types of actions there are? What to look for to analyze things people are
doing. Neighborhoods classrooms etc. it’s a theory of things people do. What are
the different kinds of meanings that motivate action?
•4 major types of action.
•Start from an image of people doing strange things and ask WHY they are doing
Theories of action
1. Purposive rationality.
a. Goal oriented action. Teleological. Beating someone to get their money is
goal action. Its all about getting your goal. Its rational, based on trying to
match the means that you have available to you in the most efficient way.
Done without emotion. What matters is the outcome. An engineer building
a bridge to cross water regardless of personal views or consequences
2. Value oriented rationality
a. Look at people fighting and try to find out why they’re fighting. Try to
come up with a solution to the reason. Every action has a structure,
organization, meaning to it. i.e. defending your honor leads to a fight.
Certain things become rational in the light of that value. Someone violates
that honor, you need to fight him or her. Key differences between 1 and 2.
2 is focused on the intention rather than the consequences, while 1 focuses
on the consequences. The person defending their mothers honor will do it
come what may, what’s important is that you are staying true to that value;
defend it no matter what the consequences. 1 focuses on consequences so
if they change, or the means to it change, you change what you’re doing,
for example if someone gives you money, you stop beating someone up
for their lunch money. However, if you pay off someone for insulting their
mother, it will not change their mind.
3. Affective: emotional.
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