Webers Verstehende Sociological Method

Topics: Sociology, Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Pages: 4 (1330 words) Published: June 3, 2012
1. Explain Weber’s verstehende sociological method and its relationship to methodological individualism. “Probably the most famous aspect of Weber’s thought that reflects the idealist tradition is his emphasis on versehen (subjective understanding) as a method of gaining valid insight into the subjective meanings of social action” (Johnson, 1971:210). From this we gather that versehen was Weber’s way of understanding social action. For weber social action was an action which an individual undertakes and carries out to which a person attached a meaning (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004:953). Weber identifies two types of understanding, aktuelles verstehen and erklarendes verstehen (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004:953). According to Weber, versehen is an empirical sociology of the understanding of meaning (Kalse1979:176). Aktuelles vestehen refers to the direct observational understanding (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004:953). Direct observational understanding with its regards to that of ideas, of actions and of irrational emotional reaction (Kalser, 1979:176). For example by looking at someone’s facial expression to you can tell the type of mood that they in, like being happy. This is however not a sufficient level of understanding for Weber to explain social action which is why there is the second type of understanding erklarendes verstehen (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004:953). It is also known as the explanatory understanding, it questions the symbolic quality of the action being observed to try and understanding the meaning and motives of the act (Kalser, 1979:176). With explanatory understanding it is necessary for the theorist to put themselves in the shoes of the persons whose behaviour is being explained, in order to try understanding the motives behind the actions (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004:953). Basically verstehen is about trying to set out scientific method, therefore it common sense verses scientific methods. Verstehen is a way of trying to incapacitate methodological...
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