What Is an Ideal Type? How Do We Make One? How Can We Make One? How Can We Use It as a Tool to Overcome Difficulties Inherent in Doing Scientific Study of Cultural Reality ?

Topics: Sociology, Scientific method, Science Pages: 1 (286 words) Published: October 10, 2012
On p. 90 Weber introduces the ‘ideal type” as a kind of artificially constructed concept that is useful “for heuristic as well as expository purpose.” What is an ideal type? How do we make one? How can we make one? How can we use it as a tool to overcome difficulties inherent in doing scientific study of cultural reality (a reality in which “all knowledge is knowledge from particular points of view,” p.81, and “these standpoints [cannot] be derived from “the fact themselves,” p. 82)

Idea type was introduced by Max Weber which are ideas used to explain social phenomena. They are subjective element that adapted in social theory and research. These ideas consist of constructive concepts from analyzed experience. They are constructed by person. They can be used to explain why certain social phenomena existed in one society but no in others which is comparing society. They are also used to trace social change. They are not description of reality but aims to give expression to description of reality. Idea types are tools that used to distinguishes sociology from natural science. They are themselves not hypothesis but they helped the construction of hypothesis.

According to Weber, ideal types are formed by “one sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena.” Thus, a unified analytical construct is formed by arranging one-sided emphasized view points. In the sense of conceptual purity, this mental construct cannot be found empirically anywhere in reality which is a utopia. Generally, ideal types are formed by grasping common elements that existed in most cases of the given phenomena.
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