Self, Culture and Society
October 2nd, 2013
[Power is] the possibility of imposing one’s will upon the behavior of other persons’ (from Max Weber on Law
in Economy and Society, P. 323)
“The Manifested will (command) of the ruler or rulers is meant to influence the conduct of one or more others
(the ruled) and actually does influence it in such a way that their conduct…occurs as if the ruled has made the
content of the command the maxim of their conduct for its very own sake” (page 328)
What happens when relationships between the ruler and ruled do not go as expected?
Monty Python- the annoying peasant (Youtube Video)
Lecture Outline: (Bold= Key Concepts/Important Ideas)
•Today in the House of Social science: The room of Sociology
•What is society? We need to construct a concept of our object of analysis (THIS IS NOT the same
thing as the ‘real object’)
•Tonnies: Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Context: Rise of “market society”
•Weber: Why study “Bureaucracy”?
Attributes of Bureaucracy (both public and private)
Modernity and the rise of “modern bureaucracy”
•Giddens and modern sociology: What is “modernity’?
Ferdinand Tonnies (1865-1936)
•Sympathized with Hamburg dock strickers in 1896- Prussian government considered him a social
democrat and denied him full professorship until 1913.
•Co-founder of German Society of Sociology (president 1909-1933)
•Removed from post due to his criticism of the Naxis
•Published Gemeinshaft und Gesellschaft (1887)
•Helped to create discipline of sociology
What is the argument?
•What is ‘society’ and how can ‘society’ be ‘known’? Need a concept of it ‘in our heads’
•Society is best understood in terms of the relation between two parts that make up the ‘whole’
•Gemeinschaft: translated as ‘community’, the level of society where ties are informal and cooperative,
most often associated with kinship ties (Diamond!)
Think back to the difficult part in Diamond’s reading of forms of kinship ties, forms of primitive life
and how different it is to our economic life today.
•Gesellschaft: translated a ‘society’, the level of society where ties are formal and based on individual
self- interest, where there is a complex and impersonal division of labour.
There might be “a” division of labour, but it is never impersonal, it is very personal.
What is Society?
•Why is this distinction useful?
•First, distinguishing two components (maybe more?) of society allows us to be more precise about what
it is that we are analyzing: a complex object