Midterm 2: T/F & Short Answer 24/11/2013 6:11:00 PM
Chapter 10: Max Weber (1864-1920)
Methodology of the Social Sciences; Types of Social Action
Life and Times: Personal and Family Life
Weber’s Sociology: two major themes
1. Forms of social action, class and power
2. Gradual rationalization of social life: bureaucracy
Action: (when the) acting individual attaches a subjective meaning to his (her) behaviour
Natural vs. Social/Cultural Science
Sociology: an interpretive and causal social science
Question of meaning or why? And CAUSAL analysis
Natural Science: no meaning;
Why is a purely causal question; No ―intention‖ or ―meaning‖
Bacteria don’t blush; particles don’t get pissed off! Atoms don’t agonize; Molecules don’t get miffed
Natural Science: ―laws‖ of nature
Sociology: no ―laws‖ because social action is intentional
History: unique, non-repeatable events
Sociology: generalizations are possible
Sociology: aims to understand (why) and explain events (Causal analysis)
Sociology: subjective meanings but ―objective‖ analysis is possible
How is objectivity possible?
Values, Value-Relevance and Value-Neutral Analysis
Can we separate our values from influencing our interpretations?
Value- Relevance unavoidable
Still, ―value-free‖, objective social science possible
Weber: the value of science: clarity
Fact/Value distinction (is vs. ought)
Science derives from values, but cannot tell individuals what they ought to do (JP Morgan Chase
Science: provides a sense of probable results of pursuing particular means for obtaining particular
Social Science cannot help us choose between competing values
No scientific basis for Values
Is this true? Yes and No
Justice Earl Warren (Chief Justice, US Supreme Court) Internment of the Japanese and Civil Rights
Capital Punishment; Torture etc.
Sociology > subjective meanings + causal analysis
Objectivity Natural Science vs. Social Science
Weber is concerned with what science can and cannot accomplish employing the concepts ―ends‖ and
-humans desire something either for its own sake or as a means for the attainment of something else
whether certain means are appropriate for the attainment of a given end is a question that can be
-the pursuit of every goal almost always entails some cost, responsible individuals will want to take
such probable costs into account before they act
-this is the sort of analysis which science makes possible, and which can be accomplished with a high
degree of objectivity
-one of Weber’s most fundamental insights: science can provide the kind of technical knowledge
described, but science cannot tell an individual what ends or means to choose
-science can provide us with a measure of clarity concerning probable results, but science cannot tell
us which means to choose or whether they are morally justifiable
-in sum, an empirical science cannot tell individuals what they ought to do; it can only tell them what
appears to be practicable and what one gains or loses when a certain path is chosen
-Weber states his lifelong position: the boundary between science and values must be strictly
-goals of social policy (aka social science) cannot be chosen by scientific technical methods
-in any society, the ideals that motivate some individuals are in conflict with those of others
-Weber insists on the unbridgeable distinction between three kinds of argument: (1) arguments that
appeal to or desires for concrete, practical, social, or cultural aims (2) arguments about the validity
of the ethical norms that appeal to our conscience (3) arguments that appeal to our capacity for
determining the validity of claims to empirical truth
-Weber’s main point here is that especially in the social sciences, one must not blur the basic
distinction between an appeal to values and an appeal to our ability to recognize what is true in
accordance with logic and evidence
-scientific proof in the social sciences must be subject to confirmation or disconfirmation by anyone
-for Weber, the blurring of the distinction between facts and their evaluation is a major defect in
social sciences; this defect needs to be eliminated
-that is possible for two individuals who observe the fact-value distinction, but who are opposed
logically, to agree nevertheless that a given analysis is empirically valid
-Weber stresses that in his conception of social science the aim is to grasp concrete reality, the
characteristic uniqueness of the reality in which we move
-the aim is to understand why things are historically so, but as soon as we attempt to reflect on the
immediately given concrete reality, it presumes is with an infinite number of phenomena
-Weber argues that even if we could discover rigorously formulated exact laws to cover the behaviour
of all social phenomena, such laws would do no good
-Weber emphasizes that where the uniqueness of a phenomenon is concerned, the question of
causality is not a question of ―laws‖ but of concrete causal relationships
-general laws cannot explain historically specific social, political, or religious movements -Weber wants us to grasp the salient difference between the natural sciences and the social sciences
-laws are valuable in the exact natural sciences insofar as such laws possess a general or universal
-but laws in social sciences, conceived as historical-interpretive disciplines, are least valuable
-the natural science methods and the historically grounded social-science methods are to be
conceived as polar-opposite ideal types
-NATURAL SCIENCE: laws or nature
-SOCIAL SCIENCE: no laws because social action is intentional.
Concept of Ideal Types (model)
Not to be confused with the best type
Theoretical constructs, models
Not literal descriptions of reality
Ideal types as Utopias
Exaggerated, one sided accentuation
Democracy, Capitalism, Free Markets Socialism, University, Bureaucracy etc.
Ideal Types of Social Action: any action has all four elements
o Value Rational
o Instrumental/Goal Rational
o Affectual: emotion
o Unintended consequences of social action
Talcott Parsons was amoung the first to introduce Weber’s writings to English readers. Soon it
became a common opinion in the American social sciences that much of Weber’s work had been
intended as a refutation of Marxian theoretical and methodological principles.
In Protestant Ethic, Weber’s analysis of social stratification also showed how cultural phenomenon
circumscribe social action and, in doing so refuted the Marxist emphasis on economic factors as the
primary causal agents in history.
Weber was criticized Marxism for confusing technological with economic conditions as he said the
steam mills and hand mills of in feudalism was a technological factor not something that drove the
capitalistic economy because Marx states they were used to presuppose different divisions of labours.
Marx’s aim was to guide the exploration of the manifold and historically changing connections
between the economy and other social institutions; that was also Weber’s scientific aim.
The economic for Weber as for Marx referred to the material struggle for existence, how it affected
economic conditioned other institutions and how they, in turn, affected economic processes was
Weber’s journal central aim: the scientific investigation of the general cultural significance and the
socio-economic structure of the human community and its historical forms of organization. Weber’s intention to assess the contribution of the Protestant ethic to the shape of the modern
economic system, and to shed light on the process by which ―ideas become effective forces in
Weber viewed capitalism as a modern phenomenon: a very complex system of institutions,
characterized by a high degree of formal, or technical, rationality.
Weber puts a thesis together that traces the Protestant ethic—to the new moral values that emerged
with the religious changes of the sixteenth century, the Reformation.
Religion: Asceticism was to be traced to Calvin.
With Luther, Weber observed, a new concept which heretofore expressed in the German word Beruf
and even more clearly in the English word calling, referred to the morally dutiful fulfillment of a task
assigned by God.
Lutherans doctrine was that capitalistic activity was quite traditional and in some respects less
accommodating than that of the medieval scholastics.
Weber explains Calvin’s doctrine of predestination lead to worldly activity such as business because it
was not the teachings though certain of his own election, rejected the principle that one could learn
whether that doctrine proved to be too heavy a psychological burden for ordinary people who needed
to their fate and who required a ―sign.‖
The original doctrine thus became intense worldly activity is necessary, and a duty to attain certainty
of one’s own election and justification in the daily struggle of life.
Thus the Protestant ethic became the attainment of salvation through morally and dutiful pursuit of a
worldly calling, and absolute avoidance of anything that detracts from an ascetic way of life. It was
embodied in Puritanism, Pietism, Methodism, and the Anabaptist sects; greatest significance for the
development of capitalism.
Puritanism, Weber writes, carried with it ―the ethos of the rational organization of capital and labour.‖
Asceticism looked upon the use of religion to say the attainment of wealth is a fruit of labour in a
calling is a sign of God’s blessing, also accepted by Methodism.
One of the fundamental elements of the spirit of modern capitalism, and not only of that but of all
modern culture: rational conduct on the basis of the idea of the calling was born—that is what this
discussion has sought to demonstrate—from the spirit of Christian asceticism.
Richard Baxter, an English Puritan minister and writer, who ―stands out above many other writers on
Puritan ethics, both because of his eminently practical and realistic attitude—ideal type.
Feudalism was a decentralized political system in which the prince’s official had no access to unless
collecting feudal dues or serving military summons; there was a division of powers, the locus
classicus of feudalism was understood to be Japan and Western Europe.
Basic Sociological Terms:
Sociology is a science concerning itself with the interpretive understanding of social action and
thereby with a causal explanation of its course and consequences.
Ideal Types and Ideal Social Actions
o Max Weber paid specific attention to Marx’s idea of the ―cultural superstructure of society‖…
which is seen in his works about the diverse religions around the world o Weber provides methodological guidelines to analyze how mental attitudes correspond to a
form of action
o ―Sociology is therefore a science that concerns itself with the subjective meanings humans
attribute to their actions and with the causes and consequences of those actions. We must
however, always bear in mind that meanings and motives are themselves causal components
o ―Rational Action‖: when an individual or groups in the economic world understands what ends
they are pursuing, and with what that means; meanings of actions must be fully grasped.
o The construction of a purely rational course of action in such cases serves the sociologist as a
type (ideal type), which has the merit of clearly understandability and lack of ambiguity.
o They are the perfect state that we can use to measure reality against, in an ideal state a
bureaucracy would have clear division of labour (specialize in different products), rules and
regulations (made from above), hierarchy of authority (clear path of where the decisions are
made from), technical qualifications (people have to be good at the job and qualifications), and
impersonality (no personal feelings attached to work).
o The ideal type does not exist in reality but becomes a measuring stick to assess reality.
o Multiple perspectives are required to understand a concept, allows for social perspectives to be
o Textbook: creating an ideal type of ―handicraft‖ as a Precapitalist form of production becomes
heuristically useful in contrast to another ideal type, ―capitalistic production.‖
o To Weber the ideal type is pragmatic/rational: there is only one criterion, namely, that of
success in revealing concrete cultural phenomena in their inter-dependence, their causal
conditions and their significance. The construction of abstract ideal types recommends itself
not as an end, but as a means.
Ideal Social Actions
o Instrumental rational/goal-rational: is determined by expectations as to the behaviour of
objects in the environment and of other human beings; these expectations are used as
―conditions‖ or ―means‖ for the attainment of the actor’s own rationally pursued and calculated
It is a general orientation that is based on the assumption that in specified
circumstances humans conduct themselves in predictable ways. I.e.) Businessmen only
care about profit.
o Value-rational: determined by a conscious belief in the value for its own sake of some
ethical, aesthetic, religious, or other form of behaviour, independently of its prospects of
The actor has an overwhelming commitment to certain ultimate values, which he
pursues without regard for the cost that such single-minded pursuit entails. I.e.) Gandhi
and Martin Luther King fighting the world by non-violence.
Commands and demands that bind an individual that requires them by duty or honour
to pursue their values.
o Affectual: especially emotional, determined by the actor’s specific affects and feeling states. It is a case of sublimation when effectually determined in action occurs in some form of
conscious release of emotional tension. I.e.) slamming a door.
Unintended consequence of emotions.
o Traditional: determined by ingrained habituation, that it is meaningless at all.
This type includes actions ranging actions from the self-conscious but habitual, to the
quasi-automatic repetitive patterns of everyday life. I.e.) brushing our teeth, showering
and eating etc.
Calvinism, Pre-destination and Modern Rational Capitalism
o The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Calvinism- concept of predestination, either
elected or dammed: psychological burned, Calvinism followers seek answer to who is
predestined(a sign) i.e. accumulation of wealth for God, intense hard work to combat self
doubt-every hour lost is lost labour for the glory of God- wealth is for God(value rational)
o Martin Luther: concept of calling--> work is not just work, a means to an end, but a higher
calling (a vocation).
o Protestant ethnic did not cause capitalism on its own: under capitalism’s material conditions
(working class, colonialism, factories) it became the catalyst, an UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE
of value rational action
i.e. the switch and the infrastructure. if you do not have the infrastructure in place it will
not lead to capitalism, switch is useless without infrastructure and vice versa(once
modern capitalism develops there is no need for the switch: Protestantism)
o China, India= different religious are not barriers to capitalism, religion was only used as a
switch during a particular historical context (Protestant ethic can also be a barrier to modern
capitalism i.e. the Amish)
o Value rationality-> instrumental rationality (irrational) i.e. cities around the world are
rationalized (look the same-New York, London, Tokyo)
o Weber: order today determines the lives of individuals born into this mechanism with
irresistible force i.e. iron cage-Puritans wanted to work now are forced to work Marx: the
pursuit of eternal treasure- connection between Puritanism and capitalism SAME IDEA
Europe: reformation in the 16 thcentury. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
Calvinism is the concept of predestination:
o Either damned or elected- predestined
o There nothing you can do about it—you cannot change it
o Psychological burden, there is no sign to tell you which it is
o Calvin’s followers thought that a sign of election is accumulation of wealth for god
Not wealth for wealth’s sake—intense, hard work to combat self-doubt. But you cannot
try to double guess God’s goal for you.
Furthermore, religions with a similar doctrine of proof had a similar influence on practical life.
Predestination in its "magnificent consistency" was the foundation for the Puritans' methodical and
rationalized ethics. The different branches of ascetic Protestantism had elements of Calvinist thought,
even if they did not embrace Calvinism as a whole. Weber again emphasizes how fundamental the
idea of proof is for his study. His theory can be understood in its purest form through the Calvinist
doctrine of predestination. Calvinism did have a unique consistency and an extraordinarily powerful psychological effect. However, there is also a recurring framework for the connection between faith
and conduct in the other three religions to be presented.
The Industrial revolution only took off in Western societies as the Protestant ethic was developing
from the reformation that was caused, and Weber did research in India, China, and so forth on
religions to compare why they did not progress towards capitalism like the rest of Western society.
In terms of capitalism production of wealth, asceticism struggled against greed, it did so in order to
confront both the danger it presented to social order and its impulsive character. Puritan implied the
ideal of becoming rich and striving for wealth.
Asceticism became clear and its methodical rational organization of life was the power ―that
perpetually wanted good and perpetually cheated evil, namely, evil in the manner conceived by
asceticism: wealth and its temptations. Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence
from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.
Protestant asceticism provided positives religious sanction for the exploitation of the worker’s
willingness to labour. Provided workers with religious motives for treating his labour as a calling.
Once the capitalist system had become established, the Protestant ethic as no longer a necessary
ingredient for the maintenance of the system.
Ethic was not a necessary precondition for the emergence of the capitalist system, but rather for its
markedly energetic character during the early phases of the system’s development.
Weber suggests that two relatively autonomous developments intersected at a given historical point
to contribute to the formation of the modern ration temperament.
Capitalist ethos, and protestant ethic.
While on the other hand, he states that it is foolish to argue that capitalism could only have arisen as
the result of certain affects of the Reformation, or even that capitalism as an economic system is a
creation of the Reformation - since certain important forms of capitalistic business organization are
known to be much older than the Reformation. Instead, Weber's goal is to ascertain whether (& to
what extent) religious forces have taken part in the qualitative formation & the quantitative
expansion of capitalism over the world.
WEBER'S THESIS STEP-BY-STEP:
He begins by drawing attention to significant cultural differences between Protestants &
In education, Protestants were more likely to study technical subjects, & more often proprietors of
industrial enterprises, while Catholics were more likely to study traditional humanistic studies &
nonindustrial occupations (e.g., crafts)
Weber argues Protestants, whether from upper or lower class, showed a special tendency to develop
economic rationalism, which was not as evident among Catholics
So how did Weber explain the over pronounced economic rationalism among Protestants?
o At first glance, it might appear that they were more hedonistic than Catholics, but as Weber
notes, the English, Dutch, & American Protestants were the complete opposite of hedonistic --
instead, they adhered to a strict religious & moral code of self-denial (i.e., asceticism)
o He maintains that it was this ascetic Protestant ethos that made them especially receptive to
the rational spirit of capitalism To illustrate this thesis, Weber used the writings of Benjamin Franklin as an example of
the Protestant commitment to industry, frugality, hard work, & punctuality
o According to Weber, Franklin's attitude toward $ was different from that of rich men of earlier
eras (he wasn't hedonistic) --> Instead, Franklin's motives for making $ were rooted in his
strict Calvinist upbringing ("Seest Thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before
Kings") - thus, Weber argues that Franklin's economic motives are religiously justified
o For Weber, Franklin was typical of the early entrepreneurs who found sanction for their
business dealing in their Protestant teachings
o Yet not all Protestants believed in a strict ascetic way of life with the resulting stimulation of
capitalist spirit & enterprise
Asceticism was to be traced to Calvin, not Luther:
o With Luther, Weber observed that a new concept emerged that wasn't previously included in
Christian theology: calling - The morally dutiful fulfillment of a task assigned by God
o First appeared in Protestant translations of the Bible & thereafter assumed special importance
o It imparted for the first time in the West a religious significance to men's daily worldly
o Although, Luther was hostile to the ethos of capitalism, & after the peasant uprisings he
aligned himself with the princes
o Thus, it is not Luther's teachings, but Calvinism that holds the ethical elements that fostered
the capitalist spirit (although, the fostering of that spirit was an unforeseen & even unwished-
for result of Calvin's labours)
How did Calvin's doctrine of predestination lead to worldly activity such as business?
o Weber states that it was not the teaching of Calvin himself, but his followers
o Calvin was certain that he was one of "the chosen", but said that all others were unable of
knowing if they were seen by God as chosen or damned -- but this doctrine proved to be too
heavy a psychological burden for ordinary people who needed to know their fate & required a
o Thus, Calvin's followers increasingly expressed the need for "infallible criteria by which
membership in the electi could be known"
o So the original doctrine was modified & stressed:
o That it is people's absolute duty to consider themselves chosen, & to combat all doubts as
temptation of the devil, since lack of self-confidence is the result of insufficient faith
o It is one's duty to attain certainty that he/she is seen as chosen through the daily struggle of
o The only way one can have self-confidence that they are "chosen" is in intense worldly activity
o Thus, the PROTESTANT ETHIC = hard work & avoiding all things that distracts from an
ascetic way of life
o It served to alley fear from damnation & was embodied in varying degrees in Puritanism,
Pietism, Methodism, & the Anabaptist sects
o Weber considers it the "greatest significance for the development of the spirit of capitalism" Just as Weber had noted Franklin as the ideal representative of "the spirit of capitalism",
he treated ascetic Protestantism the same way, & began to use an English Puritan minister
as the ideal representative (Richard Baxter)
o Baxter expressed the new capitalist ethos + the Protestant conception of the pursuit of a
calling (just like Franklin), yet expressed it through religious writings with "a practical realistic
o Unlike Franklin, Baxter does not quite say "time is money", but says the spiritual equivalent =
"a waste of time is the deadliest of sins" & "every hour lost is lost labour for the glory of God"
o With strictly religious motives, Baxter preaches that everyone (regardless of wealth) should
partake in hard, continuous, bodily or mental labour
o Baxter's doctrine has the highest ethical appreciation for the sober, middle-class, self-made
o Weber writes that Puritanism carried with it "the ethos of the rational organization of capital &
labour" & "turned with all its force against one thing: the spontaneous enjoyment of life & all
it had to offer"
o Sees the pursuit of wealth as an end in itself & as highly reprehensible - but the attainment of
it as a fruit of labour in calling was a sign of God's blessing
o Most important: the religious evaluation of restless, continuous, systematic work in a worldly
calling = the highest means of asceticism & the surest proof of genuine faith --> this, gave
rise to the spirit of capitalism
o Weber also uses the writings of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) to illustrate the spirit
of capitalism, who states:
o Those who were involved in causing the economic effect of such religious movements,
generally came only after the peak, when the purely religious enthusiasm had dwindled
o Thus, their intensity for following religious doctrine gradually passed over into sober economic
virtue: the religious roots died out slowly, giving way to utilitarian worldliness
o Protestant asceticism therefore provided a positive religious sanction for the exploitation of the
worker's willingness to labour; it eased the employer's conscience and at the same time
provided the worker with religious motives for treating his labour as a calling
o One of the fundamental elements of the spirit of modern capitalism (+ all modern culture) =
rational conduct on the basis of the idea of the calling
o Although, once the capitalist system had become established, the Protestant ethic was no
longer necessary for the maintenance of the system
o Thus, Weber states that the ethic was not a necessary prerequisite for the emergence of
capitalism per se, but rather for its markedly energetic character during the early phases of
the system's development
Weber never uses Calvin himself to illustrate the ethos of ascetic Protestantism
o He uses people who lived hundreds of years after Calvin (e.g., Baxter, Wesley, & Franklin)
o His intent was to show what Calvinism became in the course of its developments (showing
what it became, not in isolation from other developments, but under the influence of economic + other developments) - which is why the thinkers he uses embody elements of Protestant
asceticism + the capitalist spirit
Theoretically Weber is therefore suggesting that 2 relatively autonomous developments
intersected at a given historical point to contribute to the formation of the modern rational
There was a great "elective affinity" between:
The norms of the new religious movement
& the ethos of the new economic system
Weber was not aiming to refute Marxism
He was not stressing religious & other spiritual factors at the expense of economic conditions
He understood the importance of economics as economic conditions remained central to his analysis
of both capitalist & pre-capitalist formations.
Bureaucracy and Rationalization
o Rational: action is instrumentally ration when the end, the means, and the secondary result
are all rationally taken into account and weighed, and finally of the relative importance of
different possible ends.
Weber saw it as a powerful manifestation of formal and technical rationality
Bureaucracy has several distinctive characteristics as a pure type
Bureau or office is an official jurisdictional area regulated by definite administrative rules
Activities of a bureaucrat are regarded as duties for which he has been trained and is qualified
Arranged in a hierarchy – system of superordinate and subordinate offices
Each office contains a body of official records or files
Underlying administrative rules of this type of organization are quite general
Clients treated not as individuals but as members of specific categories
Office holding in a bureaucracy is not a job but a VOCATION
An official’s Allegiance is owed to the office not to individuals
He gets his self esteem by virtue of his holding office
In case of a modern bureaucracy;
After a qualifying period, official gets a tenure – holds position for life
Earns a salary not a wage and becomes entitled to pension (wage is measured in terms of work
done, salary is based on one’s rank or status)
Modern bureaucracy presuppose a money economy
Increasing expansion of bureaucracy in modern society may be accounted for by both quantitative
and qualitative development of administrative tasks
In both public and private sector it is not considerations of efficiency but of power that have
accounted for growing bureaucratization
Marx believed that capital was becoming increasingly concentrated and centralized, there was
competition among firms with some winning and some losing, the losers would be destroyed or
enveloped by the winners, the winners were able to lower production costs by investing more on better equipment etc., as investment increased, entry into field of production was reduced and thus
capital become centralized
Weber agrees with this
But he adds that Marx had centered attention solely on one aspect of a much more general historical
He argues that historically the soldier is being separated from the means of violence and the civil
servant from the means of administration while these means have also been undergoing continual
At one time, soldiers owned their own weapons and were able to equip themselves but in modern
warfare, it’s a war of machines and now they are provided weapons; army service has shifted from
shoulders of the propertied to those of the Propertyless
Weber believe beaucracy to be a power instrument for those who occupy its command posts
The best power interests in it, social control and discipline it facilitates, the specialization of work and
the accompanying requirements of expertise, all these factors world make the dismantling of
Bureaucracy: the ultimate instrumentally rational organization; ultimate narrow ends and means
calculation; iron cages Not saying the are evil; specifies points of bureaucracy that are the ultimate
ends and means calculation
o Hierarchical Pyramid
o Written Rules
Bureaucracy: the ultimate instrumentally rational organization; ultimate narrow ends and means
calculation; iron cages
o Not saying the are evil; specifies points of bureaucracy that are the ultimate ends and means
o Hierarchical Pyramid
o Written Rules
o Salary not wages
o Bureau or office not personal
o ―Technical‖ superiority over other organizations
o Bureaucracies simultaneously inevitable and deeply problematic: instruments of power and
o As society increases and people increase, you need more and more generalized rules etc.
Goal Displacement: following rules becomes the goal
Bureaucracies Come into place due to goal displacement
Or the rules and regulation that were meant to achieve certain goals, themselves become the goals
The doctor and the patient: technically perfect surgery. Dead patient (environmental problem)
Weber: quote from slides
Think of army as a modern bureaucratic system The soldiers (Samurai) in early China owned weapons, criteria for joining army; now, that is not the
case, you don’t need weapons to join the army, they are provided to you
Marx: the workers and capitalists are alienated, lose control over their creations
Weber: everyone losses control and dominated by bureaucracies and bureaucratic personalities or
specialists without spirit
Marx: Communism will get rid of alienation
Weber: unlikely to happen; bureaucratization
You have to be real, there are limits to how far one can go
Does not mean all societies will be identical copies of each other
Marx: class polarization, class conflict and revolution
Weber: unlikely due to class, status and power distinctions
Weber on Class, Social Closure and Life Chances
Number of people have in common a specific causal component of their life-chances inso-far
The component is represented exclusively by economic interests in the possession of goods and
opportunities for income and
Is represented under the conditions of the commodity or labour markets
Types of Class:
The working class
The petty bourgeoisie (old middle class)
Property-less intelligentsia, white collar: get the occupation through education,
Property: this is NOT personal possessions, it can be used to generate wealth, like land
Classes privileged through property/education
Class: A person's economic position in a society, based on birth and individual
achievement.Weber differs from Marx in that he does not see this as the supreme factor in
stratification. Weber noted how managers of corporations or industries control firms they
do not own; Marx would have placed such a person in the proletariat.
Class and “life chances”
These are independent concepts and ways of deriving power and privilege and domination in society
They are not completely unhinged but somewhat depending on factors
i.e. race, ethnicity, etc.
Status: Prestige is associated with the style of life of a status group
Within classes there were several status groups
Weber stated that there was control of all types of wealth, not just production, but social honor or
prestige was also based upon property, education, etc.
Status differences must be taken into account in class analysis because those differences give us an
idea of how certain social groups within a class regard themselves and how others regard them
As capitalism matures, class and status become more distinct
Economic and Non-economic forms of power significance in modern society
-Race, religion, ethnicity, ―old money‖ vs. ―new money‖, religion, etc. are major elements of
inequality I.e. henry Louis gates
Weber: like Marx he is concerned about inequality
But its more complicated
He is saying that it is not as clear-cut and simple
--For Weber, class represent the phenomenon of the
distribution of power. He writes that class comes from: 1) a number of people
having in common a causal component of their life chances 2) this component represents
economic interests, possession of goods, and opportunity 3) and under the labor
market. Class determines life chances. Within any given class, there are a
number of statuses to be found. The prestige a person gets is based on their amount
and source of their income, political position in community, edu, etc. Among
the property owners there are the old and new rich for instance. Among the propertyless
we find status has to do with the color of ones collar, expertise, etc. Weber
also talks about power, this power can be understood as the ability to realize
ones will despite and against resistance of others. For those people in
beaurcratic command posts, it is easy to realize their will- regardless of
their amount of wealth. This is something marx neglected: the noneconomic forms
of power. Therefore, Weber argues that the concentration of wealth is not
confined to the economic sphere.
A person's ability to get their way despite the resistance of others. For
example, individuals in state jobs, such as an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or a
member of the United States Congress, may hold little property or status but they still hold immense
Power and Ideal Types of Authority
A key theme of Weber’s sociology was the relationship between power, authority and the types of
authority. Weber believed that modern society would be characterized by bureaucracies and
institutes, which heavily involved power and authority.
First, Weber describes power in relation to social action, and says that power is the ability to realize
one’s will, especially when facing resistance from others. In this general sense, power can be seen
everywhere, such as in the home, when a father acts as a head of the family and controls how the
family is run. Weber also considered social action as when the acting individual attached a subjective
meaning to his or her behaviour, and listed 4 types of social actions: value rational, instrumental
rational, affection, and traditional. These ideal types of social actions weber then connected with ideal
types of authority, which I will outline next.
Authority, or domination, for Weber is power plus legitimacy. Although authority can also be
illegitimate, Weber’s ideal types dealt with legitimate types of authority. He had 3 types: traditional,
charismatic, and legal rational. Traditional authority is highly personalized and discretionary and is
based on loyalty people have for the traditional authoritative figure. An example is patriarchy in
feudal systems, between monarchs and serfs. Charismatic authority is important because Weber
believed it involved a heuristic and exceptional individual, with power and authority, to come in a
time of social crises and propose untraditional societies. Weber thought charismatic authorities were important because they brought along social transformation. An example would be Gandhi or Jesus
Christ. Legal rational authority is characterized by the institution of bureaucracy, which is based on
rules and laws as having authority and power. However, Weber believed that there was no such thing
as one, pure ideal type of authority. Usually authority figures would be a combination of the 3 types.
An example of this is Nelson Mandela, who was both charismatic and was a legal-rational authority,
in that he brought about a change of laws and the end of Apartheid.
The role of the state for Weber was to legitimately use power and authority within a specific
territory, and this included force and violence. Weber believed that authority types that started as
charismatic always ended up becoming either traditional or legal-rational, since once a crisis is gone,
charisma would go away. An important feature of Weber’s sociology was his notion of power and
domination, and how they would transform modern societies. His concepts of power and authority
are important for understanding his views on society and the social world.
Power - ability to realize one’s will despite and against the resistance of others.
Authority – power & legitimacy.
Legitimacy – never complete; process not a product; ultimate back-up, FORCE. Threat of force more
effective than use of force.
The state - has monopoly on the legitimate use of violence over a clearly defined territory. (ex.
Power and Authority: both forms of domination.
Ideal-Typical Forms of Authority - never pure or absolute; always mixed in real life.
They are Exaggerated, one-sided accentuation.
Modern societies characterized by bureaucracies and institutions, which heavily involved power and
The role of the state is to legitimize the use of power and authority within a specific territory and this
includes force and violence.
Authority types that start as charismatic end up being traditional or rational –legal once the crisis is
Ideal-typical types of authority
(1)Traditional - Highly personalized
- based on loyalty to the traditional authority figure.
- (ex. Monarchs & serfs in the feudal system).
(2)Charismatic – Heroic & inspirational figure.
- Have both power & authority.
- Usually arises during a social crisis.
- They propose untraditional answers.
- Have devoted followers.
- The only type that can bring social transformations.
- (ex Gandi)
(3)Rational-Legal – characterized by bureaucracy: the following of rules & laws.
Weber agrees with Marx that ―means of production‖ is disposable property of private enterprises
The idea of ―free market‖ and ―free labor‖ must consist of humans who is ―legally in position,
economically motivated to sell their labor on the market without any restrictions‖ Seems to be ―workers selling their labor voluntarily, but its actually motivated by hunger‖
―free labor‖ being a double meaning: 1)free of slavery ; 2)other form of forced servitude
Weber’s classes: 1) working class ; 2) petty bourgeoisie ; 3) property less intelligentsia & specialist ;
4)class privileged through property and education.
Marxsinking of the petty bourgeoisie (small businessmen and small producers), but
Weber‖growth of the new middle class‖ (similar to blue collar, not owners of property, share the
same relationship to means of production with blue-collar)
Marx ignores ―status‖ aspect of class identification, Weber control of wealth; the source of power;
social honor or prestige based on property, education.