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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dan Silver

CLASSIC SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY II Sociology as the Science of the Social  Rationalization (Max Weber): application of human mind to the world (science), rise of science to tell the truth. Rationalization also meant restructuring key organizations in society in a rational way by planning, organizing, thoughts, flow charts, functions, hierarchies, etc. Bureaucracy is a symbol of it (ex: not allowing to enrolling in some courses due to higher authorities). Weber wants to understand what happens when our lives are bureaucratized.  Differentiation (Durkheim): it was broader; like religion, music, etc. He argued that there is a lot of difference, how can society be held together as we don’t have things in common?  Individualization (Simmel): rise of megacities (metropolis) that has an effect on people’s lives. You could be free as people don’t know you unlike in small towns. Over 50% of humans lives in cities. He thought of consequences- people become mobile, find out who you are (become an individual), desensitizing humanity of other people around you (bystander effect), etc.  Max Weber- Life: born in 1864, oldest of 7 children, parents were protestants, his father was in politics (liberal), mother’s family was intellectuals/artists and moralistic; a cultured family. In school, liked to read a lot and went to University, rebelled against moral upbringing from his mother and joined fraternity (drank a lot)- went against doing his duty, ended up studying law and economics. He lived with his aunts and fell in love with his cousin who became ill and eventually broke up.  He was a workaholic (living like a monk- denial of pleasure), he just read a lot of books. He married Anne Weber (close intellectually but no sexual relationship, cheated on his wife at 40 years old). He began experimenting with new themes (neurotics, passions, etc.) Fought with his parents (Dad passed away a month later and then broke down after- tension between fight with parents, guilty of not marrying his true love and working too much). He travelled a lot but resigned. He observed America like Tocqueville. WW1 in Germany, he volunteered in hospitals. Towards the end of his life, he gave 2 important lectures (science (social scientist) as a vocation was one of them). He died in 1920, last words were “truth is the truth”. Sociology as Science of Human Action (Weber) - If you want to study logic of the study, u have to start with simplest thing (human beings doing things in relationship and why they’re doing those things, motivation, values, interests, goals, etc. what matters to them when they act? Is it for power? Seek truth? It becomes social action when you do it with OTHERS. This approach is distinctive as it starts with actions. - Usually it starts with social structures (more in institutions rather than ppl’s motivation like churches- and their bureaucracy and structure). Weber focused on why are those ppl at the churches, what are they getting out of it, why is it important? Even studying a workplace, you don’t study its structures but why are they there? wht do they seek?— money. What does it mean to them, like a vocation (to feel important). - People do things without motivation but not a topic for sociology according to Weber. - Studying this systematically, as motivation is hard to access you need a theory of action  Theory of Action - A theory that tells you the main types of actions there are, the motivations tht can move ppl to do things which can help you study cases. - Weber made a typology (series of things tht are related to something). 4 main types of actions; 1. Purposeful Rationality (Goal Oriented): attempt to understand a situation and people in it. ex: guy fighting to get money to buy food (means was to take from another person to get his goal of getting a sandwich) 2. Value Oriented rationality: the reason seems reasonable and your committed to a value (ex: defending mother’s honour so you hit the other person) and less concerned about the consequences of your actions (come what may). 3. Affective (emotional action): your mood causes you to act a certain way 4. Traditional action: you’re habitual to doing it. Ex: fighting for no reason but used to fighting (beefs) - These 4 typologies are useful because 1. It allows us to make systematic distinction (different types of actions are more useful). 2. Look at historical development: you could study hw one type of actn wasn’t there at one point in time but eventually started and you could ask hw it started. Weber shows a shift where custom, value, and history became the guided force for law, day to day frndship, economy, etc.  Natural vs. Social Science - 2 main camps; 1. Positivists (nomothetic): science means explaining things according to a general law. If there is a science in society, we need to find laws of human relationships (determining cause of revolution- political crisis, class segregation, etc. all play a role in it). 2. Historicists (idiographic): there can be no universal law for humans as we’re not like genes, rocks, planets, etc. as we’re different. We’re free and don’t need to respond to a situation and every situation is unique as some historic events may not happen again so idea of having a law is a fool errand. Weber saw value in both of rd them, he wanted a unique way and thought of a 3 way. He said tht scientific understanding has to proceed by basic understandings and you need a general statement. He was with the positivists in this statement. But vice versa against the positivists he said, you can’t understand human beings only based on external movement, you have to tke account of their motivation (subjective sense), to understand nature it
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