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Max Weber

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edit index Max Weber
Max Weber (21 Apr 1864 - 14 Jun 1920) was a German thinker who developed a "Hermeneutic" tradition in Sociology and Economics. Weber based many of his economic studies on early twentieth-century Germany, and became well-known for his study of the "bureaucratization" of society.

Life and Works

Born in Erfurt, Germany, and the eldest of seven children of Max Weber and Helene, young Max, along with Vilfredo Pareto and Emile Durkheim, became one of the founders of modern Sociology. Instead of following Auguste Comte, who worked in a "positivist" tradition, Weber worked in an idealist, hermeneutic tradition, and developed the notion of "ideal-type". Weber posited a view of the State so pivotal to Western Society, it possesses a virtual monopoly upon the legitimate use of force, which it may nonetheless elect to delegate as it sees fit. Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism was a seminal essay on the differences between Religions and the relative wealth of religious followers.

Politics, he understood, is any activity in which the state might engage itself in order to influence the relative distribution of that force, and thus uses power-based concepts as a derivation of its power. A politician, for Weber, ought to deploy the ethic of "ultimate ends" and the ethic of responsibility, and must possess both passion for the avocation and the capacity to distance themselves from the subject of such exertions, that is, the governed. The phrase, "work ethic", now used in our commentary, is a derivative of Weber's "protestant ethic", adopted when the idea was applied as a comparison to other peoples around the world. Max Weber died of pneumonia in Munich, Germany in 1920.

Further Reading

  • Roman Agrarian History
  • Sociology of Community
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Sociology of the World Religions: Introduction
  • The Rejection and the Meaning of the World
  • The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • Economy and Society
  • Theory of Social and Economic Organization
  • The Russian Revolutions
  • The History of Commercial Partnerships in the Middle Ages
  • The City
  • Ancient Judaism
  • The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism
  • Religion of India
  • General Economic History
  • The Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations


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Some content adapted from the Wikinfo article "Max Weber" under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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