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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Briefly discuss the work of Max Weber in sociology and explain his theory of social action



Max Weber

Biographical Sketch :
He was born on April 21, 1864 in the city Erfust of Germany. His family was a middle-class family the effect of which can be seen on his intelligence and psychology. His father was a bureaucrat. At the age of eighteen, he got admission in Heidelberg University and did his PhD. from Berlin University and started to teach in the university. In 1910, he set up a German sociological society and his home became the centre of intellectuals. His best written book is “The Protestant Ethic” and “The Spirit of Capitalism.” He died in 1920 in Berlin Germany.

Sociological Theories of Max Weber

Max Weber is a famous and effective personality in his sociological theories. He was a complicated thinker and it was difficult to understand his ideas by men in his lifetime. The analysis and criticism of his theories is also a source of his fame. His views impressed other sociologists in many ways. He defines sociology in the following words :
“Sociology is a science concerning itself with the interpretative understanding of social action and thereby with a casual explanation of its course and consequences.”

In his opinion,

1. “Sociology should be a science.”

2. “Sociology should be concerned with causality.”

3. “Sociology should utilize interpretative understanding.”

The norms fixed for sociology by Max Weber, can be seen in his views clearly.

Social Action :
Sociology of Max Weber consists of the concept of social action. He states action and reaction difference. His social action relates to his theory of action which should be made clearly of thought process that is meaningful. Action was said to occur when individuals attached subjective meaning to this action.
Max Weber focuses his attention on the individual a group or collective class and the uniformity and no manner of it.
He says, “Action is the sense of subjectively understandable orientation of behaviour exists only as the behaviour of one or more individual human beings.”

Max Weber, by using ideal type of methodology explains action by its four kinds :
i. Means ends rationality :
Those actions determined by expectation. That is the doer’s behaviour and environment should be according to that of other human beings. These expectations are used condition and source and the actor gets specific objectives.

ii. Value of rationality :
The actions determined being based upon conscious belief of values. These values may of moral, aesthetic, religious or behaviour or of other form which should be prospective.

iii. Effectual action : 
This action is determined by the emotional condition of an individual. In other words, such action is based on emotional motives instead of sense and consciousness.

iv. Traditional action :
This action is determined by the habits and traditional manners of an individual. That action. which the individual does mechanically with little intentional aim.
Max Weber says that any action will fall within these four types and sociologist can understand the society better.

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