SOSC 2350 Note 8:
The Sociology of Weber and Durkheim
- What constitutes order?
o Order exists when conduct is oriented to maxims
The universal rules orienting our rules, which “ought” to be the
case for everyone.
Consciously or unconsciously take into consideration some
stable set of commonly accepted assumptions and rules of
Individuals may orient their conduct to the maxims because of
coercive sanctions or because they feel the law is legitimate.
There is no unique cause (not singular), but rather several
forces together exerting at the same time
- Two dimensions of law:
Follows general criteria applicable to all (assumption)
When all similar cases are dealt with informally.
o Formal (application of rules and procedures that are internal to any
given legal system)
Making things equal to all.
o Substantive (the application of rules and procedures that are outside
of the formal system, i.e. employing external criteria)
- Degree’s of Rationality/Formality
o Formally Irrational:
To make one’s decision according to laws of the universe
Decision making rests on making, the oracle, or the revelation
o Substantively irrational: each individual example are what determines
the decision. Each case employs any one of a number of ethical,
political, ideological, moral or emotional considerations.
o Formally Rational: Internal rules are applied to all similarly situated
cases in an identical manner. Here rules are abstract and general.
Looking at the broad picture
Not looking at the circumstances at hand.
See all individuals as “individuals” not “Jeff, Sally, etc.”
o Substantively Rational: Examples include plea-bargaining, affirmative
action, the defence of necessity, UN definition of human rights
They focus on the specific case of the individual
- Weber’s theory of Authority
o Two features:
General notion of authority
Division of different forms of authority into three pure types:
traditional, legal-rational, and charismatic.
o Authority is one form of power the most stable and enduring form. Not a physical compulsion, but a belief in the binding quality of
the certain normative principles.
These norms exist for good reason, and they are
King has power because subjects think his orders are
righteous and consider themselves obligated to obey.
- Traditional Theory of Authority
o Modeled on the relation between a “master” and a “servant”
o Fundamental difference in social position/natural endowments
Social hierarchy justified by a “natural” order
o Based on a model of an orderly household; natural participation and
o Relies upon seeing social hierarchy as a natural order to the universe.
Feminists bitched out about it. (It assumes that you are what you are,
you’re born what you are, and you can’t change anything.)
o There’s always a powerful and a submissive
o There’s a “pathos of distance’
They’re each getting something:
Support and authority for master, and stability to
- Legal-Rational Authority
o Belief in the legality of enacted rules
o Consistent system of abstract rules that have been intentionally
o “A system of consciously made rational rules
There’s a purpose
o Relationships seen as membership in an organization
We see each others as equals because we’re all on the “same
o Individual right/duties as a member of the organization
We know at the same time what expectations are made of us.
Do not owe obedience to individual but to the impersonal
They only have authority as far as they are the
representatives of those specific organizations.
Members are all equal before the law; economic/social
o They may be seen as both sovereign and legal rational, but their
purpose is from being rational beings
- Rational Legal Authority in Modern Law and Bureaucracy
o Set up to be impersonal and abstract so everyone can be represented
in and by it.
Not reflecting the identity and the value of people as a group.
o The rule of law is the same o This creates stability because all individuals have access to the law,
what the punishments might be, it encourages them to abide by the
o Bureaucracies rely upon the impersonal relationships.
I.e. when you’re trying to get something done with York, you
have to go through all the hoops and your specific
circumstances don’t fit into the form.
These forms are intended to make calculations possible
by reducing the “human” element, and make it just the
o Weber sees it as a system always as something that can be turned into
Business and relationships are conducted in this way.
- Charismatic Authority
o Devotion to exemplary character of an individual person
Certain quality not accessible to the ordinary person
They might also have a vision
o Authority only legitimate only if followers accept claim/meaning
o Seen to have calling which interrupts and challenges
Consider the entrepreneur who is attractive because they want
to change the suffering. It’s something they will make that is
new is often appealing. This claim alone will make attractive
o Not bound to intellectually analyzable rules (supernatural)
o Inherently unstable authority; transcend life of the household and
o They might only be interested in their own vision, and interested in
the followers only as far as they’re useful.
o They’re unstable, and there’s nothing that can be followed.
- These three types are seen to be ideal types and they don’t necessarily reflect
each of the relationships (fitting into one or the other), it might, depending
on the different relationships be so.
- He was aware that in the empirical reality will be found by mixing different
- Evolution of Law/Contracts
o Law gradually evolved:
Evolved from a substantively rational system (takes particular
circumstances of the individual: who they are, based on a
recognition and personal understanding) to a formal rational
system (more abstracted, less concerned with who they are,
but interested in meeting out justice)
o Evolution of contracts
In primitive was the status conract Any transaction affected the individual’s entire status
Transactions with outsiders were marked by barter since