SOC231H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Protestant Work Ethic, Chase Bank, Ideal Type

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Published on 25 Nov 2013
School
UTM
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC231H5
Professor
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
Bank)
Science: provides a sense of probable results of pursuing particular means for obtaining particular
ends
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
Law
Capital Punishment; Torture etc.
Sociology > subjective meanings + causal analysis
Objectivity
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Natural Science vs. Social Science
Weber is concerned with what science can and cannot accomplish employing the concepts ―ends‖ and
―means‖
-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
answered scientifically
-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
observed
-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
anywhere
-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
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-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
validity
-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 Traditional
o Affectual: emotion
o Unintended consequences of social action
Reading Notes:
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 focus.
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.
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Document Summary

Methodology of the social sciences; types of social action. Life and times: personal and family life. Weber"s sociology: two major themes: forms of social action, class and power, gradual rationalization of social life: bureaucracy. Action: (when the) acting individual attaches a subjective meaning to his (her) behaviour. Sociology: an interpretive and causal social science. Why is a purely causal question; no intention or meaning . Bacteria don"t blush; particles don"t get pissed off! Sociology: no laws because social action is intentional. Sociology: aims to understand (why) and explain events (causal analysis) Sociology: subjective meanings but objective analysis is possible. 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 ends. Social science cannot help us choose between competing values. Justice earl warren (chief justice, us supreme court) internment of the japanese and civil rights.

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