Max Weber

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 103
  • Published: October 9, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Modernity, Meaning, and Cultural Pessimism in Max Weber
Author(s): Steven Seidman
Source: Sociological Analysis, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Winter, 1983), pp. 267-278 Published by: Association for the Sociology of Religion, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3711610
Accessed: 11/03/2009 01:53
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=asr. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Association for the Sociology of Religion, Inc. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Sociological Analysis.

http://www.jstor.org

A
Sociological nalysis1983, 44, 4:267-278

Modernity,

Meaning,

Pessimism

in

Max

and

Cultural

Weber

Steven Seidman
State University f New Yorkat Albany
o

t
intellectual mporBeginning rom the assumptionhat classicalworksretaina contemporary f
i
W
v
a
T
tance,thispaperexamines eber's iewson modernitynd theproblem f meaning. hepaperaro t
n
gues that althoughWebermaintained hatneitherreligion orscience ieldsbeliefsystems f a soy o
t
antimodernismf cultural escially unifyingnature,he did not subscribeo the one-dimensional o
p
simistsor the existentialist ilemmaof an absurdexistence.Weber's erspective n modernitys d
o
i
p
shownto be a liberalversionof valuepluralism nd decisionism. a

Contrary to what the Whiggish notion of scientificprogresswould lead us to believe, contemporary sociological analysis has not so much superseded past sociological thought as elaborated,revised, and thereby sustainedits present importance.The classical tradition continues to structurecurrent theoretical and researchdebates. From this perspective,reading classicalworks takes on a new significance:the analysisof classical texts is not only of historical interest but is often an exercise in theoretical innovation or, at least, a practice embedded in present intellectualproblems (cf. Alexander, 1983; Seidman, 1983).

The contemporary intellectual status of the classical tradition is nowhere more evident than in recent theoretical reflection and researchon religion, values, identity, and freedom in modernity. It is hardly an exaggerationto say that the main theoreticalperspectivesthat inform currentresearchon problemsof meaning and freedomin modernity stem from the works of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. We need only referto the revitalization of the sociology of religion which reflects,on the one hand, the incorporation of the Weberian viewpoint in the works, for example, of Peter Berger(1967), Thomas Luckmann (1967) and Bryan Wilson (1976) and, on the other hand, the reworkingof the Durkheimian legacy around the theme of civil religion (e.g. Bellah 1975; Parsons, 1974).

If the classical tradition is pivotal in contemporarysociology then why the need for this analysisof Weber'sviews on modernityand the problemof meaning?There are two t
justifications for examining Weber'sworks. First, although the "neo-Weberians"ake Weber'swritings...
tracking img