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Max Weber

By kcast3 Dec 02, 2013 656 Words

Max Weber described sociology as the study of social action. It is the science that attempts the interpretive understanding of social action in order to explain its course and affects. He believed that history was moving towards rationality and power. Weber believed in the ideal type, putting together a set of concepts to create a set of characteristics. Max Weber had ideas on rationalization, status and power, violence, and social change. Rationalization refers to the substitution of values, traditions, emotions in society with rational, calculated ones. Weber believed that the society was moving towards rationalism. Weber’s works on rationality develop later into his studies on bureaucracy and classification of authority into three types. These three types are rational-legal, traditional, and charismatic. The legitimacy of these authorities all come from different concepts. Rational-legal authority is a type of leadership that is legal authority based on rules. Meanwhile traditional authority on the other hand is based on belief in sanctity of “the way its always been done.” The means and ends are fixed and there is no variability. Charismatic authority is legitimized by the personality and qualities of the leader involved. Weber believed that legal order is where rules are obeyed and are considered legitimate because they fall in place with other laws on how they can be enacted. While Weber acknowledged that rationalization was accountable for many developments in society such as increased knowledge and control of social lives, he also believed it dehumanized people in a way. It restrained them from acquiring complete freedom. Another component of Weber’s work was his theory of stratification. There are three parts to this theory including social class, social status and political party. Social class he referred to as a persons association with the market, whether they are an owner, employee, etc. Status class was based on the qualities of the people that did not have to do with qualities developed around the market but rather the qualities of respect, honor, and religion. The party class refers to political affiliations. These three parts in his theory gave people the opportunity to improve one’s life. Weber believed every society is divided into groups that have different views of the world just as it is divided into distinctive classes. Weber believes that economic power is the principal form of power but he also argues that power is the ability to get one’s way despite opposition of others. Weber describes a state as a community that claims authority by using legitimate physical force in obtaining territory. As long as the state has legitimacy, public and private force can be used according to Weber. Public forces for example are the police, military, etc. Private force would be considered self-defense. A person may engage in a violent act for the sake of defending someone’s life or their own. Self-defense is considered a private form of legitimate violence. Types of power that he describes are violence, renunciation and domination. They must have legitimacy in order to take effect. The ways social change has been identified has varied greatly throughout history. For Weber charisma is a form of energy that has the power to make social change. A charismatic leader is a risk to the traditional and rational-legal built system that has already been running. The changes brought by this leader are more centered on the thoughts and attitudes of the people. It will bring a completely new direction of action and attitude toward problems of the world. Max Weber had his ideas on social theory that he felt would pose problems that we would face in modern society today. His theory of rationalization and power were very essential in his work because he believed that society was moving towards rationalization. Society would ultimately exchange its values and beliefs with other more rational beliefs and values. To Weber, action involved meaning, understanding and motivation; it is not something to be explained physically.

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