Max Weber: Biography and Contributions to The Sociology

max weber bio,theories,contributions to sociology

A German sociologist, philosopher, political economist, and Jurist, Maximilian Karl Emil Max Weber came in this world on the 21st of April 1864 and took his last breath on the 14th of June 1920. He is also known as Max Weber. He was said to be an influencer and his ideas caused many social theories and social research. Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber are said to be the three founders of Sociology.

Max weber on social stratification

One of the finest German Sociologist Max Weber, since Marx has given us the most important progress in stratification theories. The similarities and differences of the approaches will become apparent as Weber’s ideas are examined. Weber assumes or looks class as the field of economics. He says that to have economic gains one has to develop their class in market economics and compete with each other. he explains according to him a class or group of people who have same positions in the market economy and therefore enjoy same rewards. Thus Weber’s terminology A person’s class situation is also basically his market situation. Those who share a similar class situation also share similar life chances not very keen on the position will directly affect their chances of obtaining those things defined as desirable in their society, for example, access to higher education and good quality housing

Weber argues that the major class division is between those who own the forces of production and those who do not get paid for those who have substantial property holdings will receive the highest economic rewards and enjoy superior life chances, however, Weber sees important differences in the market situation of propertyless groups in society. Each profession requires different skills and services that is why they have different market values and each occupation provides differently. For instance, in a capitalist society professionals like bankers, engineers, managers everyone with different occupation receives comparatively high salaries because they provide different services and requires different skills. Weber shares how in capitalist society class groupings are done:

  1. The propertied upper class
  2. The propertyless white-collar workers
  3. The petty bourgeoisie
  4. The manual working class

Weber discusses class he firstly discuss, it is important to understand the significance of others elements in comparison to property ownership or non-ownership to better formulate the classes. The market value of these skilled propertyless workers differs and which causes differences in economic return which later plays a significant role in producing different social classes. Secondly, Weber witnessed there is nothing to support or no evidence to support the polarization of classes. Although he sees some decline in the number of the petty bourgeoisie, the small property owners due to complications from large companies he argues that they enter in the white-collar or skilled manual trades rather than being depressed into the ranks of unskilled manual workers. One of the important things he says is that the middle-class who are white collared are expanding rather than contracting as capitalism. He believes in the society of modern nation-state and capitalist corporations to make it function, it requires a large number of administrators which have rational bureaucratic administration.

Thirdly, Weber rejects the view held by some Marxists of the inevitability of the proletarian revolution. He says that there is no reason to support the same classical view that means it doesn’t necessarily be a known shared interests, common identity, and the aggregate actions of those of group interested. Lastly, Weber disagrees with Marxian’s perspective that economic power doesn’t take place from political powers. According to Weber class division is not caused due to unequal distribution of power in society.

Weber after his research states that no theory alone of status groups, classes, and parties can explain and show their relationship. The formation of a social group is a complicated and different process that requires cooperation among different elements such as class, party, and status. Hence each must be looked after carefully in society, during the specific time period. Therefore Weber explains that the evidence displays a picture that is more complex and diversified in social stratification.

Max Weber on Poverty

Weber argues that an individual‘s class situation is dependent upon his market situation on the amount of power he has to influence the workings of the market in his favor and on the rewards his skill and expertise can come on in a competitive market, from this perspective groups such as the aged, the chronically sick, and single-parent families have little power in the market and therefore receive little reward. Indeed their circumstances largely prevent them from competing in the market. However, not all members of these groups are and this is preferable to their market situation prior to the present circumstances. The poverty of the old, sick, handicapped and single-parent families is largely working-class poverty. members of other societies have sufficient income to save got invest in pension schemes, insurance policy and in the shareholdings for themselves and their dependents and so guard against the threat of poverty due to the death of the breadwinner, sickness or old age, in this sense social class rather than personal disability inadequacy or misfortune accounts for poverty.

Max Weber on Bureaucracy and Rationalization:

Max Weber believed that bureaucratic organizations are the dominant institutions of industrial society. He viewed the organization that has a hierarchy of reward that has full-time professionals sending lines of commands. A bureaucracy is concerned with the business of an Administration, with controlling, managing, and coordinating a complex series of tasks. Bureaucratic organizations are increasingly dominating the institutional landscape.  Departments of State, political parties, business enterprises, the military, education and churches and all organized on bureaucratic lines. Understanding the importance of bureaucratization is very essential to understand and appreciate modern society. Weber isn’t sure of bureaucracy as an organization. He thinks bureaucracy is superior in terms of technical aspects compare to other organizations. He also says that to function in large-scale industries bureaucracy is vital as it helps them to function smoothly and in an organized matter. He also saw it has a threat to governmental powers but it can be overcome by stronger political or governmental controls.

Max Weber on Religion and Social Change

From Max Weber’s perspective, he rejects The view that religion is always shaped by economic factors. He does not deny that at certain times and in certain places, the religious behavior may be largely shaped by economic forces, but he maintains that this is not always the case. Under certain conditions that reverse can occur is religious beliefs can be a major influence on economic behavior.

Weber looked after the relationship between the specific forms of Protestantism and the progress or development of Western industrial capitalism. He argues that the essence of capitalism is the pursuit of profit forever renewed profit.

Weber then talks about the rise of ascetic Protestantism which he maintains preceded the development of Western capitalism. He looks at a number of Protestant religions particularly Calvinism which developed in seventeenth-century Western Europe.

Weber claims that ascetic Protestantism ethic, a religiously based moral orientation towards the world, was an important factor in the development of the spirit of capitalism. In turn, the spirit of capitalism directed the practice of capitalism. Weber does not claim that ascetic Protestantism caused capitalism. He argues that many other factors were involved. However, Weber maintains that ascetic Protestantism had an important influence on the origin and development of capitalism in Western Europe.

Weber’s views on the relationship between religion and capitalism have generated a large body of research. Historians such as Tawney and Trevor Roper have produced modifications of and alternatives to Weber’s theory and much more.

Also Read: Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism

Religion, Sects, and change:

Max Weber argues that sects are most likely to arise within groups that are marginal in society. Members of groups outside the mainstream of social life often feel they are not receiving either the prestige or the economic rewards they deserve. One solution to this problem is a sect based on what Weber calls a ‘theodicy of disprivilege’ such sects contain an explanation for the disprivilege of their members and promise them a sense of honor. Either in the afterlife or in the future in the new world on earth.

Practise: Questions and Answers

Give an account of Weber’s conception of wert rational action and its importance in the world today.

Weber saw sociology as a study of social action. He focused on humans’ subjective meanings of their activities within their socio-historical contexts.

Four ideal types of social action:

  1. Beweckrational    – end rational
  2. Wertrational         – value-oriented rational action
  3. Traditional action – least logic
  4. Affective action    – due to emotion

A Wertrational action is oriented towards a goal or value defined by society and not by the actor.

The action taken by an individual actor is to fulfill such a value-defined societal goal. Action is rational. Thus, understanding wertrational action helps us know what a society values.

A soldier sacrificing his life while fighting the enemy shows society values like nationalization, patriotism, courage and bravery as desired values.

Merton’s deviance shows that economic and material success values are essential in American society and even corruption crimes are wertrational actions to attain the goal.

Similarly, suicide was a wertrational action among the Samurai is of Japan after a defeat, as pride and honour were valued. Thus, understanding wertrational actions can help us identify reforms needed in the value system and introduce desirable values. The emphasis on values as an end thus necessitates correct values.

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Hello, I am Samreen Sagheer pursuing Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity. I am an aspiring writer, ready to give my best. I like to keep things simple and straightforward just like my personality.