Max Weber (1864-1920) | Sociological Thinkers | UPSC Sociology Notes

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Max Weber (1864-1920) | Sociological Thinkers | UPSC Sociology Notes

Max Weber – social action, ideal types, power, bureaucracy, the Protestant ethic, and the spirit of capitalism.

Max Weber was born on April 21, 1864, in Erfurt, which is now in Germany. Weber’s father was very active in public life, so politics and academia were always talked about at home. Weber and his brother did their best thinking in this educational environment. In 1882, he went to the University of Heidelberg, but he left after two years to do his year of military service at Strassburg. After he got out of the army, Weber finished his studies at the University of Berlin. In 1889, he got his Ph.D. and became a professor at the University of Berlin, where he taught and gave advice to the government.

Weber was named an economics professor at the University of Freiburg in 1894. In 1896, he was given the same job at the University of Heidelberg. At the time, most of his study was in economics and the history of law. After Weber’s father died in 1897, two months after they had a big fight that they never got over, Weber started to feel sad, nervous, and sleepless, which made it hard for him to do his job as a professor. So, he had to cut back on how much he taught and finally left in the autumn of 1899. He was hospitalised on and off for five years, and when he tried to break the loop by going on trips, he had sudden relapses.

He finally quit his job as a professor at the end of 1903. Also in 1903, Weber became the associate editor of the Archives for Social Science and Social Welfare, where he worked on more basic social science problems. Soon, Weber started putting his own papers in this magazine. His essay “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” became his most famous work and was later turned into a book.

Weber helped start the German Sociological Association in 1909, and he was the first manager of the group. He quit in 1912, though, and tried without success to form a left-wing political party that would bring together social democrats and liberals. At the start of World War I, Weber, who was 50 at the time, offered for service. He was made a reserve officer and given responsibility for the army hospitals in Heidelberg, a job he did until the end of 1915. In the last years of his life, from 1916 to 1918, he strongly argued against Germany’s annexationist war goals and in favour of a stronger parliament. This was the time when he had the most powerful effect on his peers. Weber got tired of politics after helping write the new constitution and start the German Democratic Party. He went back to teaching at the University of Vienna and then at the University of Munich.

Max Weber (1864–1920) fought against abstract theory and in favour of a method of sociological inquiry that built theories on rich, systematic, empirical, historical research. The first step in this method was to look at how history and sociology relate to each other and how they are used in research. Weber said that the goal of sociology was to come up with ideas for analysing real-world events, which would then let sociologists make generalisations about events in history. On the other hand, history would use a vocabulary of social terms to figure out what caused certain historical events, structures, and processes. Weber says that sociology and history rely on each other in the academic world.

• Weber’s sociology is much more like Marx’s than Durkheim’s. It is a criticism of what is called “vulgar Marxism,” which is the idea that social life, including culture, is just a simple result of the way the economy works. Weber thought Marx was a crude Marxist, which is understandable since he didn’t have access to Marx’s early works, which contradict crude readings in a clear way.Weber came from a very different philosophical background than Marx. Instead of the Hegelian tradition in German thought, he was close to the Neo-Kantian school. Neo-Kantians were thinkers in the late 1800s and early 1900s who followed the ideas of Immanuel Kant, who lived from 1724 to 1804. Kant thought that people lived partly in the world of natural causes and partly in a world of freedom where moral rules, not natural causes, ruled. So, natural science couldn’t explain everything about people. It would have to use other methods to learn about their moral and spiritual lives. Still, Weber agreed with some of Marx’s most important ideas and shared his main worry about how capitalism works. But he had very different ideas about what history is and how it should be studied, as well as how sociology and history are done.

• Immanuel Kant’s theory left behind a clear divide between the world of nature and the world of human thought. Physical nature is ruled by hard, technical rules, but the mind of a person is free and doesn’t depend on anything. At the end of the 1800s, this difference led to a heated discussion in German culture about the limits of scientific inquiry. Were cultural phenomena, like the subjects of history, by their very nature unable to be studied scientifically in the same way that natural phenomena were? This argument helped Weber figure out what he cared about. For him, the difference between natural science and history didn’t come from the fact that natural and social things are different. Instead, it came from how we relate to them and how interested we are in them. In general, we want to understand how nature works as a whole. The difference between one rock and another doesn’t really matter to us, and it doesn’t matter just because it’s different. We are more interested in how rocks behave in general, so we can be happy with an idea that is abstract and general. But when it comes to people, their uniqueness is what draws us in. For example, we are interested in Adolf Hitler not because he was like other people but because he was so different from other leaders.Weber didn’t come to the conclusion that there’s no place for generalisations in the social sciences. Instead, he said that generalisations aren’t as important as they are in the natural sciences. Generalisations can be helpful in the study of history and society, but only if they help us understand the specific case better.


For Weber, history was more important than sociology, which was more general. Sociology gave us abstract ideas that could help us understand concrete, complicated, and unique historical cases. These ideas weren’t made just for their own sake; they were made to help historians understand the past.

Weber’s own studies were both geographically and historically wide-ranging. They covered Western civilizations from the time of the Greeks and Asian societies like India and China over thousands of years. They were also supposed to cover the world of Islam, but his study of Islam was just getting started and most of the other studies, even though they were long, were never finished. Their goal was to answer Marx’s questions about the role of religion in social and economic change and the connection between ideas and economic situations. But understanding of general issues and other societies wasn’t done for its own sake. Instead, it was done to help with the situation at home, i.e. to understand the uniqueness of Western European and North American capitalist civilizations (especially Germany, because Weber was a strong nationalist) in the late 1800s and early 1900s. History looked at “individuals,” but those “individuals” could be big groups, like “Western civilization in the modern world,” not just single people. Also, when it came to politics, historical and scientific information didn’t play much of a role. Weber wrote two important pieces about politics and science as careers. In these essays, he put forward ideas that are still controversial today.

Objectivity and value freedom:

The idea that science should be ‘value free’ is the most controversial. Weber’s main political goal was to make sure that people were responsible in a society where technical and scientific knowledge was becoming more and more important.

Weber was afraid that the roles of scientist and citizen were becoming less clear, and that scientists were being used by demagogues to back up their claims. He was worried that scientists would often be irresponsible enough to use their scientific status and the authority that comes with it to push for political policies that have no scientific basis or authority. He thought that, in the lecture halls of the universities of his time, professors went beyond the limits of their academic knowledge by giving passionate speeches about political problems and calling them “scholarly disquisitions.” Academics and scientists have the same right as everyone else to share their political views. However, they don’t have any special rights in the political arena, so they should keep their political opinions to the public political arena. There, the best historian, physicist, or sociologist is just one more citizen with one more opinion. For scientists to do their jobs in a responsible way, they need to follow the usual rules for serious research and proof, and they can’t talk about politics in the classroom.

Facts and values:

Weber thought that the difference between what is scientific and what is political was the same as the difference between what is true and what is right. A very common view, which Weber also held, is that you can’t figure out ideals from facts. Scientists can only tell us what happens and how things are. They can’t tell us how they should be, how we should live, or what we should do. We still have to make choices based on our values, no matter how much study and proof we have.

This difference was important to both Weber’s view of what it means to be human and his approach to sociology. There are an infinite number of values that are incompatible with each other, and there is no scientific or reasonable way to choose between them. We can’t get out of having to choose by saying that science shows that one value is better than another, because science can’t do that. We have to decide for ourselves which “Gods or Demons” to follow, which gods to worship, which leaders to follow, and which causes to fight for, as Weber put it. This kind of choice is a sad part of being human and is sure to cause terrible fights within and between people. So, Weber is sometimes called a “decisionist.” This means that we have to choose our values, the things we care about and strive for, from a range of possible but incompatible values. This means that we have to choose one path over another and then live with the results.

So, science can never replace politics, and a scientist can never be a political leader if he or she only does science. Science can only ever have an advising role in politics, which is what it should do. Scientists can explain why things happen and how they work. Because of this, they can give good advice about how to make something happen. Based on their knowledge, they can tell us that certain ways of trying to make something happen are more likely to get the result we want, but they can’t tell us whether we should want that result or something else. Whether we want X or Y is a political question that should be handled by our political leaders. Science can be very helpful in politics, but it can’t take the place of politics or replace it. It is a mistake to think that politics can be made scientific, because politics is a battle between ideals, not a collection of facts.

Weber never tried to keep social scientists out of politics. Instead, he just wanted to make it clear that a scientist could play two different roles: as a focused researcher and as an active citizen. Scientists can be objective as long as they follow the rules of evidence and proof. This is because objectivity only needs scientists to be responsible and follow the rules of evidence and proof. In politics, there is a risk that the line between what scientists do and what politicians do gets blurred. This could give someone who is just a scientist a false sense of power. Scientists who work as political advisers might go beyond their role and start making decisions that should be made by the real political leader. This could happen if they try to turn real issues of value into simple technical choices or if they try to hide the political issues behind words that sound like science. Weber saw that science itself is also based on values. For example, what’s the point of pursuing scholarship if we don’t value information for its own sake? As Weber saw it, “value freedom” works within the framework of scientifically accepted values. He didn’t feel shy about being involved in politics or trying to use scientific understanding to shape social policy. In fact, he was worried about the lack of bold, heroic political leadership, which led some critics to see in his ideas a preview of the kind of leadership Hitler would soon give the German people.

The rationalisation of social life:

We’ve used the word “rational” more than once, always pointing to it as a key part of modern Western capitalism. The reason why In Weber’s use of the word “rational,” it means trying to find a way to reach a goal, as well as trying to understand things in a systematic way so that goals can also be worked out in a systematic way and even ranked by calculation.

Weber thought that there were only a few basic kinds of acts. Many things people do are standard or routine, which means they are done without much thought or planning. There are two ways to act that can be called “rational.” One type, which he calls “value-rational actions,” is when the means have nothing to do with the end, but are just a way for the actor to show that they value something. His own example is the captain who goes down with the ship. This doesn’t do anything useful, but it continues the captain’s commitment to dignity, ethics, and honour, which may have been the focus of his whole life. The other kind of logic is practical. This is figuring out the best, most efficient way to get where you want to go. It shows up most in our economy and culture, which rely heavily on science knowledge. Because we know so much about how the natural world works, we can figure out the best technical answer to any real-world business, administrative, or other problem. We can do this with great accuracy and in great detail.

In the West, there has been a gradual process of rationalisation, which means the spread of this kind of practical action. This has made it easier to understand and figure out how practical means-ends relationships work in every part of society. This change has happened a lot faster under capitalism, and the rise of science is especially linked to it. Even though the process is unique in its own way and in how far it has come in the modern Western world, it has very deep roots in Western society. Weber found its roots not only in the scientific way of thinking of the early Greeks, but also, as part of his studies of different religions, in the beliefs of ancient Judaism, which had a big impact on Christianity. For example, he said that Judaism was very against magic, and that this was something it passed on to Christianity. In and of itself, magic is very traditionalizing because it keeps people doing the same things over and over again. For magic to work, the same thing must be done the same way every time. So, it’s hard to imagine how the action could be reorganised to make it more effective. This makes it hard to try to figure out what makes action work. In these ways, the rationalising process has a long and deep past in Western civilization. It reached its peak during the capitalist era, when we had not only rationalised our knowledge of nature and our ability to do things in the real world, but also our relationships with other people through bureaucracy. For bureaucracy is just a way to try to make our own relationships and actions rational, which means to make them calculable, predictable, and easy to control. Weber thought it was one of the worst things about life today.

Even though Weber’s work has had a big effect on sociology and other fields, it has also been criticised. Some critics say that Weber’s way of verstehen is inconsistent and can’t be used in real life. When Weber’s way of individualism is applied to macrosociology, it confuses some people. Some of Weber’s critics have said that he didn’t give any options to rationalisation, capitalism, and bureaucracy. Lastly, many critics don’t like how Weber is always negative about rationalisation and bureaucracy’s future.

He says that people’s actions in society are very different from those of physical items and living things. (Why are these things different?)

The idea that man’s social behaviour is driven by “meanings and motives.” So, if you want to understand how people act in society, you need to know what these actions mean.

• So, the goals of sociological study are different from those of positive science. Positive science tries to find the underlying patterns of interactions between different parts of physical and natural phenomena. On the other hand, social science tries to figure out the meanings and motivations behind social phenomena so that they can be explained in terms of these motivations.

• So, the positive science method by itself wouldn’t be enough to study how people act. But Weber wasn’t against making generalisations in the social sciences. He did, however, point out that because social events are different, only limited generalisations can be made.

Subject Matter:

Weber thought of Sociology as a complete study of how people act in groups, which is the basic unit of social life.In line with his general ideas about how social reality works, he described social action as “the meaningful act that is aimed at other people.” For a behaviour to be considered a social deed, it needs to have both meaning and involve other people.But in real life, there is no such thing as a single social act. A single social act can only be thought of as an idea at the analytical level. In fact, there is a chain of social actions that keep going back and forth.


• Weber says that Sociology has a different goal than Physical and Natural Sciences. The main goal of the natural sciences is to find rules or patterns that explain how things are connected. Sociology tries to figure out the meanings and reasons behind how people act in groups, but it also tries to make some broad generalisations. Because of this, social science can’t just use the positive science method.

• Weber pushed the “Verstehen method” as a way to study social events. This method tries to figure out what a social action means at the “level of meanings” and then tries to figure out the chain of motives that led to the action. The first step in this method is “Direct Observational Understanding,” which means figuring out what the obvious subjective meanings of an actor’s actions are. The second step is to connect with the actor in a way that shows you care.In this case, the observer identifies with the actor by imagining himself in the actor’s position. The observer then tries to figure out what the actor might have thought about the situation and why he or she would have done what they did. Weber also says that this method isn’t just good for studying how people act in the present; it can also be used to figure out what happened in the past. Weber said, “You don’t have to be Caesar to understand Caesar.”Weber also says that social reality is made up of an endless number of parts that the human mind can’t understand all at once. Sociologists should make “ideal types” because of this. Ideal type is a one-sided view of social reality that only looks at some parts of life and ignores others. Depending on what you want to learn, you should pay attention to certain things and ignore others.So, ideal type is based on reality, but it doesn’t show reality in its entirety. It is made up in the mind. Weber says that testing in physical and natural sciences is the same as ideal type in social sciences. So, sociology’s method is to come up with ideal types of social behaviour and then use the Verstehen method to explain these ideal types in a way that is value-neutral. This means that the observer should look at the actor’s intentions and ideas from an objective point of view.

• Weber says that social reality is very complicated, which means that no social phenomenon can be fully explained by a single cause. Because of this, a good sociological theory must be based on the idea of multiple causes. The thesis that Weber wrote about “the Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism” is a great example of how this method can be used. Weber’s general idea of how social reality works inspired the development of other sociological approaches, such as the “Verstehen” approach and “ideal types.” For example, Max Weber’s ideas influenced Alfred Schutz, a German Social Philosopher. He helped make the phenomenological approach popular, which in turn made the ethnomethodological approach popular in sociology.

Social Action

Weber said that sociology is “a science that tries to interpret social action in order to explain its course and effects in terms of causes and effects.” Weber thought that “action” and “meaning” were the “central facts” for the scientific study of sociology. In Weber’s work, “action” is a technical term for any human behaviour to which an agent gives a personal meaning. Weber said, “Action is social insofar as the person doing it gives it a subjective meaning that makes him or her take into account the behaviour of others and be guided by it.” By refining and using this technical category of “action,” Weber was able to get the objective facts he needed to use his other subjective category, which he called “meaning.” Meaning refers to the reasons a person gives to explain a specific action.

Weber was interested in how people actually gave “reasons” for their actions. Sociologists looked at these behaviour complexes, which were shaped by people in specific social and political settings. If people don’t give their actions “meanings,” then the actions have no meaning and sociology can’t study them. In Weber’s work, the behaviour complex or matrix fell into one of four categories:

Zweckrational action, or rational action in relation to a goal, is when the actor decides what the goal is and picks his actions based on how well they will help him reach the goal. Both the means and the goals of this move make sense. It means that a person acts in a planned way in a certain scenario because they have a goal in mind. Because of this, their actions are completely logical. For example, how an engineer builds a building, how a system works, or how a modern man acts in a way that is planned for his bright future. In the modern world, this action has become much more important because, as Weber said, the world is becoming more and more bureaucratized, which means that we count on bureaucracy more and more every day. Clearly, reason is also getting stronger.

• Wertrational action, or rational action based on a value, is when the means are picked based on how well they get the job done, but the goals are set by the value. One example is a captain who goes down with a ship that is sinking, or a gentleman who lets himself be killed in a fight instead of giving up. It is an action that is done for artistic, religious, or moral reasons and is accepted even though there is no logical reason for it. It means that the means of this action are logical, but not the ends, and that the ends are acceptable because they are in line with social values. This action includes all things that have to do with getting to heaven or forgiveness.

• Affective for actions based on feelings: Here, the actions and goals are based on feelings or impulses, like when a mother slaps her child or a player throws a punch at a partner during a game. They are the ones that are brought on by feelings and requests. This kind of action is caused by love, hate, enmity, or anger, and it is mostly logical. For example, a father might get angry quickly when his kid fails.

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• Customary acts where both the goal and the way to get there are set by customs: This group includes rituals, celebrations, and practises that have been done for a long time. They are those that have been followed by many people for a long time and are controlled by social activity. People do these things for a reason, and many have been doing them for a long time. There is no place for logic, worth, or emotion in the actions. This kind of behaviour can be seen in the way people treat their relatives and in patriarchal or matriarchal homes. Over time, the number of these kinds of lawsuits has gone down, and they are being replaced by more reasonable ones.

Weber made a strong case that “because people in a social situation have certain experiences, the sociologist cannot avoid looking at the psychological causes and effects of these experiences.” Unlike Durkheim, Weber wanted to look at the subjective dynamics of human behaviour to better understand its intended purpose or meaning as seen and thought of by the person doing the behaviour.

Weber believes that the only way a scientist can understand the subjective nature of human behaviour is if he or she can figure out what actions are caused by. Weber says, “A correct causal interpretation of a concrete course of action is reached when both the overt action and the motives are correctly understood and their relationship is meaningfully clear.”

Max Weber himself has talked about the role of social action, both indirectly and directly, in the creation of different kinds of authority, especially bureaucratic authority.

• The amount of bureaucracy (Rational-Legal Action) is growing every day, which means that everything is done in the context of contact, which is only possible in social action.The connection is important not only in the United States but also around the world. Even though we used to have a lot of regional and national organisations, they are even more important now because of globalisation. In this way, both the United Nations and globalisation are making the whole world feel like it has the same culture. This is something that can only be done through social action. This shows that people all over the world have thought about the same kinds of acts, and it will end all kinds of problems that have to do with how things are interpreted. This shows how important it is to do things for other people.

• Another important thing about it is that, now that we’ve found cultural similarities, we can track down bad things like separatist and terrorist activities, and the world is coming together to fight against them and get rid of them. Now When terrorist acts happen anywhere in the world, people all over the world condemn them and work to stop them.


• In the context of “empathetic liaison,” theodre obel criticises Weber for saying that Verstehen is hard to follow because it is so subjective. There may be a lot of subjective impression. And it will be hard for the detective to figure out what to do next.

• In the context of acting in a way that makes sense to reach a goal: Since everything is logical and has nothing to do with how someone feels. Then why don’t all bureaucrats finish their jobs well? Excellence is a hard thing to get.

• Actions that make sense in terms of ideals and traditions become very situational for an observer. If the observer shares some customs and values, he or she can understand some of what is going on. But if he doesn’t share the same history and values, it would be hard for him to understand.

• Affective actions are hard to control because they are tied to feelings, impulses, and so on, so they can’t be easily followed.

• In the setting of value neutrality, it is hard for a person to understand why someone did something in the past. And this is how the observer’s values show up in his works. But even if he does well in this role, he can’t stop the actor’s ideals from coming through. Weber himself was very aware of what was going on. He wanted to show that sociology has no moral meaning. For this, he said that the observer shouldn’t focus on the end goal but should instead pay a lot of attention to how the character gets there. And if he gets the same result, it will show that he has not taken actors’ values into account in the tests. In this way, his studies would have no moral value.

• Weber didn’t talk about how a person should act in a certain setting. Instead, he talked about different things in different situations. How would he decide what to do if he had to choose between two options? In his idea of pattern variables, Talcott Parson talked about this and explained it in a very organised way.

Ideal Types

Ideal type may be thought of as a kind, category, class, or group of items, things, or people with a certain quality that seems to be the best example of it. Weber used the term “ideal type” in a certain way.

Weber thinks of an ideal type as a mental creation, like a model, that can be used to analyse and classify a real situation. In fact, he used the idea of an ideal type as a way to examine social reality.

• Methodology is the logical and thought-out way that knowledge is gained through study. Max Weber was especially interested in how to make social studies more objective. So, he used ideal type as a way to look at the real world in an objective way. It looks at, sorts, organises, and defines social fact without any personal bias.

• Values have nothing to do with the ideal type. As a research tool, it is used to sort things into groups and define social truth without any bias. Max Weber said, “The ideal typical idea will help us get better at study. It is not an account of reality, but it is meant to give clear ways to talk about reality.

• In other words, ideal types are ideas that are based on carefully and analytically collected facts for empirical study. In this way, ideal types are ideas or constructions that we use as tools or methods to help us understand and analyse any social problem.

Construction of Ideal Type:

• Ideal types are made by combining and abstracting a large number of parts that, in real life, are rarely or never found in a specific form. So, Weber doesn’t think he’s making a new way of thinking about things. He stresses that he is putting into words what is already done.

• To make ideal types, sociologists choose a small number of traits from the whole, which is otherwise confusing and hard to understand, to make a coherent whole.

For example, if we want to study the state of democracy in India (or of secularism, communalism, equality, or the court of law, for that matter), our first step will be to describe democracy by looking at its most important and typical features. Here, we can talk about some of the most important parts of a democracy, such as the fact that there are more than two parties, that all adults can vote, that the government is made up of people’s representatives, that the people have a say in what happens, that everyone is treated the same under the law, and that everyone respects the verdict of the majority and each other’s opinions. This definition of a pure type, or an ideal type, of democracy will help us in our research and serve as a tool. Any change from it or sticking to it will show the truth.

• Because of this, ideal types focus on what is normal and what is most important. Even though ideal types are made from real-world facts, they do not represent or describe the whole world. Instead, they are logically pure types. ……Weber says that this ideal mental construct may not exist anywhere in the real world in its pure conceptual form.

Characteristics of Ideal Type :

1. Ideal types are not general or average types. That is, they are not described by the things that all phenomena or things of study have in common. They are made up based on certain common traits that are necessary for making an ideal type model.

2. Ideal types don’t show the whole truth, and they don’t explain everything. They only have a piece of the whole picture.

3.Ideal types are neither a description of reality nor a theory, but they can help with both describing and explaining. Ideal types and description concepts are different in what they do and how they are used. Its descriptive ideas can be used, for example, to categorise different sects. If you want to use this distinction to figure out how important these sects are to economic activity, you’ll have to change the definition of “sect” to focus on the specific parts of sectarianism that have had an impact on economics. The idea then becomes an ideal type, which means that any word that describes something can be turned into an ideal type by abstracting and recombining some of its parts when we want to explain or analyse something instead of just describe it.

4. In this way, we can say that ideal types are also linked to the analytic view of causality, but not in a deterministic way. They also help people come to general conclusions and make comparisons. Ideal types are used to guide empirical study and to organise data about historical and social reality.

Purpose of Ideal Type :

The purpose of an ideal type is to make it easier to analyse a scientific question. Most experts don’t know everything there is to know about the ideas they use. So, their words are often vague and hard to understand. As Weber himself says, “the language that historians use contains hundreds of words that are ambiguous constructions made to meet the unconsciously conceived need for adequate expression, and whose meaning is definitely felt but not clearly thought out.”

• Ideal types aren’t made up of just abstract ideas. Instead, they are made, changed, and sharpened through the study of real-world problems. In turn, this makes that argument even more accurate. Ideal types are a methodological tool that helps us not only analyse empirical questions, but also avoid ambiguity in the ideas we use and make our analyses more accurate.

• A tool for understanding historical patterns or specific problems from the past. For this, we make “ideal types” to understand how events actually happened and to show that if some causes or other events had not happened or had happened differently, the event we are trying to explain would have been different as well. For example, the joint family system in rural India has broken down because of the implementation of land reform laws and the spread of other modernising forces, such as schooling, modern jobs, etc. This means that the event (land reform, education, and modern education) was the cause of the situation (the joint family). In this case, the idea of an ideal type also helps explain why something happens.In Weber’s work, he looked at the relationships between causes and effects because he was interested in making comparisons between different parts of the world or analysing events and coming up with general prepositions. In other words, he used ideal types to build up a picture of a certain historical case and then used the same ideal types to make a comparison. This relationship between history and sociology is clearest in Weber’s idea of the “ideal type.”Max Weber didn’t just use idela types to look at specific cases; he also used them to look at the abstract parts of social reality and to explain certain kinds of social behaviour.

Ideal Types In Weber’s Work:

Protestent Ethics and the Rise of Capitalism

Weber made an ideal type of capitalism by choosing a few characteristics from the whole of history to make a coherent whole. This was done to show that there was a spiritual connection between Calvinism and the current business ethics of capitalism. For this, he picked out the parts of Calvinist theology that he thought were especially important for the development of a capitalist spirit.

• Weber says that the heart of capitalism is businesses whose goal is to make as much money as possible or to keep getting more and more. These are based on the idea that work and production can be organised in a smart way. The thing that makes western capitalism special in history is that it combines the desire to make money with rational discipline. If you want to make money, you won’t find it through speculation, conquest, or excitement, but through discipline and reason. Legal administration of the modern state or reason can help make this happen. Legal management of the modern state or rational bureaucracy can help make this happen. So, capitalism is described as a business that tries to make as much money as it can and runs according to the rules of bureaucracy.

• Weber tried to show that this kind of economic action and some parts of Calvinist doctrine went together well. The Calvinist philosophy says that God is all-powerful and better than people. Man has to work on earth for God’s praise, and he can do this through handwork and labour that is logical, regular, and constant. No matter how much money a person has or how little, his or her job to God is to live in a moral way every day. Work is a form of worship for him, and he has no time for being idle or lazy. The connection between Calvinist theology and the spirit of capitalism, which was based on a unique dedication to making money through legal economic activity, can be traced back to this feature of Calvinist beliefs. This comes from the idea that doing a good job at one’s chosen job is both a task and a virtue.


Weber’s ideal bureaucracy had a lot of different parts, like a high level of specialisation and a clear division of work, where tasks were assigned as official duties. There is a clear structure of command and duty that is based on a hierarchy. Written documents are used to set up a formal set of rules that will guide how the organisation works and how it is run. Relationships between people of an organisation and clients that are not personal. People are hired based on their skills and expert knowledge. Long-term employment, promotion based on seniority and performance, a fixed salary, and the separation of private and official income. • There were examples of developed bureaucracies in different parts of the world before modern capitalism, but organisations that come close to this deal typical form are only found in modern capitalism. Weber used these vague ideas about organisation to explain something real.

Authority Types

To learn about the different parts of power Max Weber made its ideal types based on three different kinds of power. There are three of these: traditional, logical, and compelling.

• Traditional authority is based on the idea that rules and customs that have been around for a long time are holy.

• Laws keep reasonable power in place. Decrees and rules.

• A leader has charismatic power if he has a lot of good qualities or if the people who follow him, trust him, and are devoted to him think he does.

These three ideal types of ideas can help us understand real political systems, since most of them have parts of each.

Type of Action

Max Weber said, “Sociology is a science that tries to understand the meaning of social action so that it can be used to explain the causes of its course and effects.” Here are a few important parts of social action:

• It gives the subject a meaning. • The person or people acting on it take the actions of others into account. • It is directed in its course.

So, coming up with an ideal type of social action helps academics come up with social action “that is easy to understand and doesn’t leave any room for confusion.”

Weber has talked about four kinds of social behaviour……… Since real life is a mix of the four pure types of action, we split them into their pure or ideal types in order to study and understand them. For example, using rational ideal types can help measure illogical deviation, and we can figure out what a certain empirical action means by figuring out which of the four types of action it most closely resembles.

Authority and power

In everyday language, “power” means strength or the ability to control something. Sociologists define it as the ability of a person or group to get what they want and carry out their plans and ideas. It means being able to change or control the actions of others, even when they don’t want to.

1. Max Weber says that power is a part of how people interact with each other. It means that a person might be able to make another person do what they want. Power is a part of how people connect with each other, and when someone has power, they force it on others. Power has different effects on different things at different times. On the one hand, it depends on how much the others are against it or try to stop it. Weber says that power can be used in every situation.

2. It doesn’t only happen on the battlefield or in politics. It can be seen at the market, in a lecture hall, at a social event, in sports, in a scientific talk, or even when someone gives money to a good cause. For example, giving a beggar alms or “daan” is a subtle way to show that you have more money than them.

Weber talks about two different kinds of power. Here’s what they are:

• Power that comes from a group of interests that form in a market that is supposed to be free. For example, a group of sugar producers controls how much sugar is sold on the market so that they can make the most money. • An established system of power that gives people the right to command and the responsibility to obey. For example, a jawan in the army must follow this officer’s orders. The officer has control because of a system that has been set up over time.

Extra Notes :

Power and the Forms of Social inequality;

Weber also gave some general ideas for social analysis, which affected how he talked about the world’s religions. Weber thought that power battles were the main way that society was put together. Weber, like Marx, thought that social life is about inequality, which can come in many different ways. Inequality is not always about money in a given setting. Economic inequality is important and often plays a big role, but it’s not the only way that people are different. imbalances are what make groups, and most of the time, the fights over imbalances happen between groups. So, Weber’s view of division is the most important part of his view of society.


Inequalities can be seen in three ways, but they are all kinds of power. Weber defines power as the ability to get what you want done even when others try to stop you. For example, having a lot of money is a sort of power because it gives you the ability to get what you want. Every kind of injustice is a difference in power. The three things that make up power are money, status, and pure power. They are the base for three types of groups with very different traits: the class, the status group, and the party. Power battles that have been important in history tend to happen among and between these three types of groups.

Weber’s ideas about social class are a lot like Marx’s. Class is defined by a person’s place in the process of making money, especially by how they relate to a market: what do they have to sell? Is it work, or does one have something to sell, or what? Weber doesn’t think of classes as real groups, which are made up of self-aware people who interact with each other. Instead, he sees them as just categories made up by a sociological researcher.


A class is more of a category than a group. It is a group of people who are put together because they have something in common. We can have as many or as few classes as we want, based on how broad or specific the criteria are.

We can basically get down to just two classes: those who sell their work on the market and those who buy it, or, in Marx’s terms, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Even within a single group, like “workers who sell their labour,” we can make more categories by separating the different types of labour sold, like whether it is skilled or unskilled, manual or non-manual. We can divide it into a huge number of classes by using the type of work being done as the criterion for common place. For example, is it the ability to fix plumbing, fix electronic wiring, lay bricks, or dig ditches? Contrary to what Marx thought, there is nothing about a class that makes it naturally united, and the social conditions that make classes act as coordinated social units in the fight for power don’t happen very often. The people in a class often respond to situations in the same way. This is what Weber called “mass action,” and it happens because they have similar backgrounds and experiences. However, they do not know how each other is reacting, and they are not working as a group.

The standing group is the second type of group that Weber talks about. Status groups are real groups because the members of the group have to recognise each other for the group to exist. The economic difference between classes is based on the kind of returns that can be expected from the market for the things that can be sold there. However, standing groups are different based on prestige, which is how highly people hold themselves and how highly others hold them.

Status Groups:

A standing group is a group of people who see themselves as equals, see each other as equally valuable, and look up or down on other social groups. A status group is a group of people who agree on the same things and recognise each other. Their leaders and subordinates also have to agree on where they stand on the general scale of social position.

So, members of a status group are aware of each other and act in a way that is at least somewhat coordinated. Closure is what makes a group like this possible. It includes some people and leaves out others. It takes steps to keep out people who are not fair.

From an economic point of view, a standing group is defined by what they buy, not by what they make. How someone lives, or their “lifestyle,” is what makes them equal, according to Weber. For example, living a life of education, culture, and pleasure could be a way to show respect for each other. In the end, the standing group depends on economic inequality, because being able to live a certain way depends on having enough money to pay for it. But wealth itself is not what makes a difference. Also, the status group’s attempt to keep its existence and identity through closure usually involves economic intervention to try to stop the market from working so that the signs of a lifestyle don’t become easy to buy, which would link them directly to wealth. The Indian caste system is the most extreme example of a status group system, in which the market has been stifled to the point that jobs are even passed down through the different caste groups. Class and status will always work against each other as ways to organise society, since the presence of one (a status group) makes it harder for the market to work in a way that helps class to form. Weber thought that long-term social order was necessary for the status group to do well. This is why he talked so much about traditional China and India when he talked about them. When social and economic changes happen quickly, social class becomes more important.

Weber’s plan has three parts, and the party is the third one. The status group has a vague sense of solidarity and shared interests, which makes it more likely that they will be able to organise coordinated group action than the class. However, this ability to work together won’t easily lead to the focused, well-thought-out pursuit of common interests, which is what the party is all about.


The party is a self-aware group that wants to be in charge. As a group that was made to fight for power, it sets its goals and organises itself to give itself the best chance of succeeding.

The party, as Weber means it, is an analytical concept that doesn’t just mean political groups. It includes any kind of group that was formed just to get more power. For example, it can include large-scale governmental power as well as groups in business, leisure, and religion. This kind of group knows itself, knows that its members share specific goals, and has the ability to work closely together to reach those goals. It is the best way for people to try to get power in society. Parties can, of course, try to base themselves in certain social groups. They can make it their goal to win power in society for a certain group. For example, a socialist party might want to win power for the working class, so it would try to find members from that group. But they don’t have to. They can try to get power for goals and interests that don’t belong to one class or any one class in particular. They can also get people from different social classes.

Authority Element

For there to be a system of power, the following things must be true:

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• A single ruler or a group of rulers or masters • A person or group that is ruled by the ruler • The ruler’s will to affect the behaviour of the ruled, which can be shown through commands

• Proof that the masters have power based on how well the people follow their orders.

• Direct or indirect proof that the people being ruled have learned and accepted that they have to do what the boss says.

We can see that having power means that the people who have it and the people who are ruled have to work together. The people in charge think that they have the right to use their power. On the other hand, those who are controlled accept this power and obey it, which proves that it is right.

Types of Authority:

According to Weber, there are three ways to justify power, and each has its own set of rules to back it up. These ways of proving that something is true are called “types of authority.” These are:

• Traditional power

• Charismatic power

• Rational-legal power

Traditional power:

This method of legitimacy comes from the way things have always been done. In other words, it is built on what people have always done and how important old traditions are. It is based on the idea that people should respect a certain power because it has been around for a long time.In traditional authority, kings get their power from the position they were born into. Their orders are in line with customs, and they also have the power to force people to follow them. They often use their power in bad ways. People who do what they say are “subjects” in the most complete sense of the word. They honour their master because they are loyal to him or because they are religious and respect his status.

• Why did the “upper” castes do horrible things to the “lower” castes for hundreds of years? One reason for this is that the “upper” classes had more power because they had been in charge for a long time. Some people say that the ‘lower’ classes had been taught to accept their oppression. So, we can see that traditional authority comes from the idea that long-standing customs are holy. This gives those in charge a reason to be in charge. • Traditional power doesn’t work with written rules of law. It is passed down from generation to generation. With the aid of family members and personal favourites, traditional power is exercised.Traditional power is less common now than it used to be. Monarchy, the classic example of traditional authority, still exists, but in a very weak state. The Queen of England is a traditional figure of authority, but as you may know, she does not actually use her power. The rules of the land are made in her name, but what they say is up to the legislators, who are the people’s representatives.

• In short, traditional power is based on long-standing traditions that allow some people to give orders and force others to follow them. It is passed down from generation to generation, so there are no written rules. The “masters” use their power with the help of obedient family members and friends. Weber thinks that this kind of power is illogical. Because of this, it is rare in modern, well-developed cultures.


Charisma is a word for a special trait that some people have. This gives these people special skills that make it easy for them to get people’s attention and love. Charismatic influence comes from a deep devotion to a person and to the way of life that person preaches. The person’s right to be in charge is based on their opinion that they have supernatural or magical powers. The charismatic leader “proves” his or her power by doing miracles, winning military or other wins, or making sure that the followers do very well. As long as charismatic leaders keep showing their followers their miraculous powers, their authority stays the same. Charismatic authority is linked to affective action. It has everything to do with the unique traits of the leader who governs or rules on his own. Charismatic power isn’t set up, so there’s no paid staff or set up for running things. The leader and his helpers don’t have normal jobs and often don’t take care of their families. When charismatic leaders have all of these traits, it’s often because they have rejected all of society’s rules and responsibilities.

• Because leadership is based on the traits of the person in charge, the problem of who should take over when that person dies or goes away comes up. Some kind of organisation forms so that the original word of the leader can be spread. The charm that started it all gets changed into either traditional authority or legal authority. Routinization of charm is what Weber calls this.

• If the charismatic person’s son or daughter or another close cousin takes over. Traditional power outcomes. If, on the other hand, charismatic traits are written down, it turns into rational legal authority, and anyone who has these traits can become a leader. As a result, charismatic power can be thought of as erratic and transient.

• Saints, prophets, and some political leaders have this kind of power. Kabir, Nanak, Jesus, Mohammed, Lenin, and Mahatma Gandhi, to name a few, were charismatic leaders. People looked up to them because of who they were and what they said, not because they were traditional or rational-legal authorities.

Rational-legal authority:

Rational-legal power is a type of authority that is both reasonable and legal. It is run by a regular group of people who follow rules and laws that have been set down. Those with power are put in charge based on the standards they have met, which are written down and codified. Those in charge think of it as a job and get paid for it. So, it is a method that makes sense.

• It is legal because it follows the rules of the land, which people know and feel they have to follow. People know and respect that both the ordinance and the rules are legal, as well as the positions or titles of those who enforce the rules.

• Modern society is characterised by Rational – legal power. It is the result of the process of making sense of things. Remember that Weber said that “rationalisation is the most important thing about western civilization.” Weber says that it is a unique result of how people think and talk. Example of legal power based on reason We do what the tax collector says because we think that the rules he enforces are legal. We also think it’s legal for the tax collector to send us tax warnings. We stop our cars when a traffic cop tells us to because we respect the law that gives him that power. Laws and ordinances run modern communities instead of the people who live in them. Not because he is Mr. ‘X’ or ‘Y’, but because he is a police officer and wears a uniform that represents the law, we follow him. Rational-legal authority appears not only in the political and administrative spheres, but also in economic organisations like banks and industries, as well as in religious and cultural groups.


Max Weber’s ideas about power and control are still important today in the following ways:

• Bureaucratic power is an unusually accepted thing, and most of the time it works based on Max Weber’s model. It is a way for people to control and manage themselves. • Charismatic power still works all over the world. Politicians, religious leaders, and athletes all have a powerful effect on the people. Some people to talk about here are the Pope, Shankaryacharya, and the Dalai Lama. There are some new ones on the rise, such as Nirmal Baba and others.

• Families exhibit Traditional Authority. In India, the situation is seen through the lens of social politics. Andre Beteille calls it “Caste Arithmetic,” while Dipankar Gupta calls it “Caste Chemistry.” India also has a lot of caste-based organisations and political groups.


Under the title Legitimation Crisis, J. Haebermas has criticised Weber’s idea of power in different ways:

1. Weber has talked about three kinds of authority, and how people in a group work under different kinds of authority in different situations. Aside from that, Weber has said that authority is legal power, and legitimacy is nothing more than when people agree that something is true.

2. But it is very clear that rational legal authority and traditional authority can’t exist at the same time, because most of the time they go against each other. Weber has made a crisis of credibility in this way, even though he says there is the same head authority. Both are different, so it makes sense that they have different names.

3. Haebermas says that Weber hasn’t shown the difference between authority and power in the right way. For example, the idea that you can get power through a party is wrong because what you really get is authority, not power.

4. It’s also not true to say that a certain person in a party has a lot of power because that person acts in a legitimate way.


Bureaucracy is the way that rational-legal power is put into action. Max Weber was the first person to give a detailed account of how bureaucracy came to be and what caused and led to it. His work is often seen as the starting point for the study of organisations from a sociological point of view. Weber thought that complexity is what makes a modern industrial society unique. His work is mostly about making comparisons between management and the ways that pre-industrial societies ran. Weber’s view of bureaucracy has to be seen in the framework of his general theory of social action. He said that everything people do has a purpose. So, to understand and explain behaviour, you have to know what it means and why it does what it does. Weber found different kinds of actions that can be told apart by the ideas they are based on. Among these are “affective action,” also called “emotional action,” “traditional action,” and “rational action.”

A clear understanding of the goal is required for rational behaviour. Rational action also includes figuring out the best way to reach a goal by systematically looking at all the ways to get there. So, a building business owner who wanted to make the most money possible would carefully look at things like alternative sites, raw materials, building methods, labour costs, and the potential market. This would require exact cost calculations and careful weighing of the pros and cons of all the different factors. His actions are reasonable because, according to Weber, rational action is the methodical pursuit of a definite and useful goal through an ever more precise calculation of means.

Weber thought that logical action was the most common way to act in an industrial society like ours. He showed it in a lot of different ways, like in running the government, business, schooling, science, and even western classical music. He called the process of reasonable action taking over more and more situations “rationalisation.” The best example of this process is the rise of bureaucracy. The goals of a bureaucratic structure are clear. It involves figuring out exactly what needs to be done to reach this goal and carefully getting rid of the things that could get in the way. So, bureaucracy is sensible action that is done in an organised way.

Bureaucracy is also a way to keep things in order. It is a hierarchical system, which means that the people at the top control and discipline the people at the bottom. Weber said that in any big job, someone has to organise and direct the work of others. He says, “The actions of a large number of men must be coordinated, and this coordination must be under the control of staff persons.”

If this control is going to work, it needs to be seen as fair. A “minimum of voluntary submission” to higher power is needed. There are different ways to look at legitimacy. This power can come from either the past or from what makes sense. The types of validity on which the organisation is built determine how it is set up. Weber said, “Depending on the kind of legitimacy that is claimed, the kind of obedience, the kind of administrative staff that is built to make sure it happens, and the way power is used will all be very different.” In order to understand bureaucracy, it is important to know what kind of authority bureaucratic control is based on.

Weber said that bureaucracy had the following traits:

• Organisation of Work in a Formal Way.

• The rules about fixed and legal areas of authority that are usually set up by rules. As OFFICIAL DUTIES, the regular tasks that come with each status are assigned in a set way.

• The framework of power is clear, and rules make sure it stays that way.

• The idea that there should be a clear order to offices and levels of power, with higher offices keeping an eye on the lower ones.

• A way to divide work based on who does what and how well they do it.

• A set of written papers (called “the files”) that explain how things work and what each person’s rights and responsibilities are.

• Office management based on expert training and a lot of work.

• Choosing people for jobs and promotions based on their expert skills, specialised knowledge, or other skills.

• Having a job as a “vocation.” Official work is no longer a side job, but something that needs the full attention of the person doing it. • Officials are paid a set salary.

• Employees are picked by higher-ups instead of being elected.

• The system of lifelong employment. The job of an official is usually set up in a contract to last for life.

• A clear line between what is office business and what is a person’s private business. The bureaucratic official is not an owner of the business, so he or she can’t use business tools for personal needs unless strict rules allow it.

• The practise of doing specialised administrative tasks based on purely objective factors and the official running of business based on rules that can be calculated and ‘without regard for people’.

Weber says that officials in a bureaucratic system have the following traits:

• Working in an office is a ‘passion’ for officials

• They are trained to do their jobs well.

• Their qualifications determine their position or rank at work. • They are supposed to do their work honestly.

Their jobs also affect how they live in their personal lives. Let’s look at how.

Officials in the government have a high standing in society, but their jobs often come with transfer liabilities. This means that they could be moved from one place or area to another, which could make their work and personal lives less stable. Officials don’t get paid based on how much work they do, but on how important they are. The more important they are, the more they get paid. They also get pensions, provident funds, health care, and other perks. People think their jobs are very safe.

• The job chances for officials are good. They can move up the government ladder from lower positions if they work hard and follow the rules.

What led to the rise of bureaucracy:

Money economy: According to Weber, you need a well-developed money economy before you can have a formal government. A stable tax system is needed for a bureaucratic government, which in turn needs a money economy. In the past, there was a lot of bartering and no money economy, so there was no way for a good bureaucratic system to emerge.

2. Organisations are getting bigger: The large size of the modern nation state, the joint stock company, and the industrialised workplace led to bureaucratic administration. When you have a big group, you have to split up the work. Technical efficiency needs expertise. Hierarchy and rules are needed for coordination. Because of this, every large organisation starts to get more and more bureaucratic over time.

3. The nature of administrative tasks: Bureaucratization was also caused by the growing complexity of civilization and the demands it put on government. So, the rising wealth of the powerful strata and their desire to own and use a wide range of goods and services led to the need for new skills and networks to carry out new functions.

4. The focus on law and order and the need for social support services have led to the creation of new agencies and the growth of old ones. Modern forms of transportation and communication, like roads, trains, telegraphs, and phones, make it easier for bureaucracies to work and help them become more bureaucratic.

5. Efficiency is a must: A capitalist market economy is built on competition, and competition forces all competitors to become more efficient. Since efficiency needs bureaucracy, modern capitalist businesses are the best examples of how to organise in a strict bureaucratic way.

6. Market economy: A market works regardless of who is in it. So, a market economy must lead to impersonality, which in turn helps the growth of bureaucracy.

Rule of law: The modern idea of the rule of law has also led to the growth of government bureaucracy. The rule of law means that everyone is treated the same before the law, or that there is no randomness. Bureaucracy helps make sure that this is the case to some extent.

8. Concentration of the means of management: As the bureaucratic system grew, the means of management became more and more concentrated in the hands of the master. So, the army became more bureaucratic after army service went from people with property to people without property. In the past, the fighter was also the owner of the tools of war, so the army became more bureaucratic. Before the rise of the national state, the power to run things was in the hands of feudal vassals and tax farms. In the nation state, the power to run things was in the hands of royal vassals and tax farmers. In the nation state, these tools were taken over by the central government, which led to the growth of bureaucracy.

9. Lessening of economic and social differences: Modern mass democracy, which has led to lessening of economic and social differences, is the major cause of bureaucracy. Mass democracy gets rid of feudal advantages in government and gives everyone the same rights before the law.

10. The bureaucratic machine is permanent. Weber says that once bureaucracy is fully set up, it is one of the social systems that is hardest to get rid of. It is a very strong tool, so it is used to achieve both societal goals and the goals of those who happen to be in power at the time.

A Critical Evaluation : The theory of bureaucracy by Max Weber:

One could say that Weber’s theory of bureaucracy is a standard. It is now accepted by most people. In particular, officials have come to use it to explain why they act the way they do. But there have also been a lot of bad things said about it. Some of the complaints are answered below.

1. R.K. Merton: The Dysfunctions of Bureaucracy: R.K. Merton said that some parts of the way bureaucracies work might not be good for the organisation. In particular, this could lead to actions that make it harder to reach organisational goals.

• First, the employee is taught to follow the rules to the letter. But if a case comes up that isn’t covered by the rules, this training may make people stiff and afraid. The worker has never been taught how to be creative and come up with new ideas, and he may also be afraid to try. His promotions and other job perks are meant to reward him. So, he might be more likely to break the rules.

• Second, formal organisations may lose sight of their goals if they are too focused on following the rules. There is a tendency for following rules to become a goal in and of itself instead of a way to reach a goal. In this way, so-called “bureaucratic red tape” could get in the way of the organization’s clients getting good service.

• Third, the focus on impersonality in governmental processes can make it hard for officials and the public to work together. For example, people who go to a job centre or a maternity clinic may expect to be cared about and understood about their issues. When bureaucrats treat people like business and don’t get to know them, it can make them seem cold and haughty. Because of this, clients sometimes feel that government

2. Peter Blau and Alvin Gouldner: formal and informal structure: Peter Blau and Gouldner have criticised Weber for putting too much stress on formal structure in the ideal type. Weber says that the first type of organisational system for a bureaucracy is more likely to help the organisation reach its goals. Based on his study of how the Federal Enforcement Agency in Washington works, Peter blau says that having both formal and informal structures in an organisation can make it more effective. On the other hand, having formal structures can make it harder for an organisation to reach its goals.

3. Alvin Gouldner’s studies of the gypsum plant in the United States show that formal frameworks may not always be the best way to reach the goals of an organisation. In reality, the different types of organisational structure rely on the goals that need to be reached and the environment in which those goals need to be reached. Gouldner found that written rules worked in the processing unit of the gypsum plant to make it more efficient, but that similar efforts in the mining unit didn’t work. It was found that a less formal way of running the mining units was more effective than a more formal way. So, both of these studies showed that official structure is not always the best way for an organisation to reach its goals.

4. Tom Burns and G. M. Stalker: mechanistic and organismic system: Burns and Stalker’s study supports Gouldner’s conclusions. Burns and Stalker suggest, based on a study of 20 Scottish and English companies, mostly in the electronics industry, that bureaucratic organisations that are formal and rigid are called mechanistic systems. They can handle scenarios that are predictable, familiar, and routine. They are not well-suited to the fast-changing technical and business environments of many modern industries, such as the electrical industries. Since change is a sign of a modern society, bureaucratic organisations that work like machines may not be usual in the future. Organic organisational systems, on the other hand, are more likely to be the way of the future. In organic organisations, there aren’t clearly defined areas of responsibility, and the rigid hierarchies and specialised divisions of labour that are common in mechanistic systems tend to go away. Each person is also motivated to use his or her skills to help the organisation reach its goals, rather than just doing a set task. When a problem comes up, everyone with the right information and skills can help solve it. Instead of being set in stone, tasks are shaped by what needs to be done. Communication is about giving and getting information and advice, not about giving orders and making decisions. Even though there is a hierarchy, decisions tend to get harder to make as information spreads in all directions and top management no longer has the exclusive right to make important decisions or the knowledge to make them.

5. Bureaucracy from Marx’s point of view: Weber says that bureaucracy is a way for all modern societies to handle their administrative needs. Whether a country is capitalist or communist, the type of people who own the means of production doesn’t change much about the need for governmental control. But from a Marxist point of view, you can only understand bureaucracy in terms of the factors of production. So, in capitalist countries, where only a small number of people own the means of production, the ruling class, which is the state bureaucracy, will always look out for the interests of that small group. So, from a Marxist point of view, bureaucracy is a way for one class to take advantage of another. Marx’s theory says that in a socialist society, the bureaucracy should be replaced by new institutions that are more participatory.

6. Lenin thought that after the rule of the proletariat was set up, state bureaucracy would keep going down. He knew that there had to be some kind of government, but he was looking forward to Marx and Engels’ plan. He thought that managers should be hired directly and that their jobs should be so easy that anyone who can read and write should be able to do them. This would give everyone the skills they need to take part in the management process.

7. An even braver attempt to get rid of bureaucratic control was made in China under the leadership of Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution. During this time, Mao introduced new ideas like the role-shifting system and collective decision making to free administrative organisations from rigid hierarchies and centralised decision making. There have also been moves like this in Yugoslavia and some other places.

8. But neither Lenin nor Mao were able to get rid of bureaucracy in the Russian or Chinese cultures. Milovan Dijilas also paints a similar picture of the former USSR, with a focus on what he sees as the exploitative nature of governmental control. Dijilas says that the political bureaucrats in the old USSR ran the economy to help themselves. The majority of people didn’t seem to have much chance to take part in or control how the state was run. So, Marx’s dream of a democratic society that is not controlled by bureaucrats stays just that: a dream.

The Protestant Ethic and the Capitalist Spirit.

Max Weber used the idea of a “ideal type” to get around the problem of how to define Capitalism and Protestant Ethic (Religion and Economy). Protestant Ethic is not a specific theological doctrine, but rather a set of values and beliefs that make up a religious ideal. Weber thinks of capitalism in its ideal form as a complex activity that is designed to make the most money by carefully and deliberately organising and managing production in a way that makes the most money. But capitalism as an economic system meant to make as much money as possible existed everywhere. But there is something special about Western capitalism: the idea of endless accumulation beyond the idea of maximum profit and the belief that the desire for profit must be tempered (mediated) by discipline and science, not by speculation and adventure.His idea is one of Weber’s historical sociology’s most important studies. This is one of the best examples of how Weber’s scientific principles—causal pluralism, the ideal type, and the verstehen approach—are put into practise. It also talks about the nature of two important sociological events, religion and modern capitalism, and lays out the basis for an alternative theory of social change that looks at ideas as a source of change in and of themselves.Weber starts by arguing against the Marxist view that was popular at the time, which said that all social change comes from the economy. Weber says that a one-sided view like this oversimplifies a social reality that is much more complicated. No social event can be fully understood by looking at just one reason. In reality, every social event is caused by a number of things happening at the same time. Weber says that Marx’s view of how capitalism came to be can at best be seen as an ideal-type building that focuses on the role of economic factors in the rise of capitalism.He also didn’t agree with Engel’s idea that the rise of Protestantism in Europe was a way to legitimise capitalism, which was already in the works. Instead, he stressed the role of ideal as a source of change on its own. In response to Engel’s claim, he says that early forms of capitalism existed in Babylonian, Roman, Chinese, and Indian societies, and that China and India also had other things that were needed for capitalism to grow at certain points in their histories. But it doesn’t describe the rise of modern capitalism anywhere. This is something that only happens in the west. The question is why these ideas didn’t grow into the modern form of capitalism anywhere else but in the West. This isn’t something that can be explained just by looking at how economic forces work on their own. It’s important to look at the specific values of the early European capitalists and realise that this was exactly what was missing in other cultures.

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• Based on a study of statistical records, Weber starts with the fact that most business leaders, owners of capital, and skilled workers in modern businesses were Protestant. This wasn’t just a modern thing; it was also something that happened in the past. The connection can be traced back to early centres of capitalist growth in the 16th and 17th centuries. After showing that there is a statistical link between the growth of the protestant population and the rise of capitalism, Weber looks into whether there is a rational link between the two. Weber began looking for the ideas that helped shape the psychological reasons that show up in the spirit of capitalism. Weber thought that these ideas came from the views and actions of certain Protestant groups, like the Calvinists, who lived in a strict way. Weber put these reasons into the form of an ideal type that should be as consistent as possible without trying to reflect history. He used this logical utopia to try to figure out how these same reasons worked in the real world.

Weber says that a capitalist must have a strong desire to own more and more things. And this desire didn’t just start with the rise of factories. But it was actually in the system in some other way. There are the following types of capitalism:

• Booty capitalists are people who get money by stealing, robbing, or other illegal means. In the past, it was very famous.

• Pariah Capitalists: In this type of capitalism, money was given out to get more interest and, therefore, more money.

• Traditional Capitalists: This type of capitalism was tried and tested in Mediaeval Europe, where money was made in the old ways. Because of this, masters and workers get along with each other in a casual way.

• Modern Capitalists: For modern capitalism to work, it needs efficiency and order. The workers are very limited in what they can do, so they see hard work as their religion. The industrial revolution led to the rise of modern capitalism. During the industrial revolution, new ways of making things like mechanisation, factory systems, and formal rules and laws were created. The only reason people were interested in this system was to make money.

Weber’s famous book, “The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” was written between 1904 and 1905. It was inspired by two general observations: in many places around the world, spiritually-focused monastic orders had made great material progress, and ascetic Protestant sects were known for their economic success. “There seemed to be a strangely good connection between strict religious beliefs and business ventures. By looking at Calvinism in particular, Weber started to see clear signs of how one thing led to another.

Weber found that Protestantism has a number of values that are in line with the idea of capitalism.

• The change from a focus on rituals and the supernatural to a focus on the real world: The mind of man is limited, so it can’t understand the mind of God, who is absolute and lofty and made the world for His own glory. So, there’s no point in being mystical. Instead, people should try to understand how things work in nature. This is a basic attitude that is against rituals and in favour of science and rational study.

• A new way of thinking about work (hard work): The Protestant Ethic says that work is a virtue, something that is not only good and useful but also helps bring glory to God. Since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and made to work for their living as a penalty, the Catholic ethic saw work as a necessary punishment and a reminder of the original sin, so it valued leisure. The Protestant Ethic not only supports businesses that make money, but it also says that work is good in and of itself because it brings glory to God.

• The idea of calling came from the Calvinist theory of predestination, which says that every soul is predestined at birth to go to heaven or hell and that nothing a person does in this life can change his ultimate fate. But God gives each person signs that let him know if he is one of the chosen ones. Success in life is the most important one. Every man wants to know if he is going to heaven or hell, so he should choose a calling or vocation, work hard at it, and be good at it. This theory had a very big effect on the economy. No longer did “religious” men have to take a vow of poverty, join a monastery, go on a pilgrimage, or torture themselves. These were all famous Catholic ways to get to heaven in the Middle Ages. The new ideology tells men to look for profitable businesses, get rich, and show that they are meant to be where they are.

• The new way people think about getting interest on loans: Catholicism’s theology said that it was wrong to charge interest on loans. This law made it harder for loan houses and banks to operate openly and legally, and it also made it harder for people to save money. Accepting in Calvinism a practise that Catholics had said was wrong. This led to a rush of economic activity, including the opening of new loan houses, investments, and floating capital.

• Alcoholism has strict rules: Protestantism says you can’t drink booze, but Catholicism doesn’t have a similar theological teaching. In fact, Protestants have always been at the forefront of the prohibition drive in the West.

• Encouraging literacy and learning. Based on the belief that every man should read his own Bible instead of relying on priestly interpretations, the Protestant ethic put a lot of emphasis on literacy and learning. This led to a major breakthrough in the field of education, which led to the development of mass education (rather than education for the clergy) and specialised skills.

• Rejecting holidays: The Catholic calendar is full of holy days, and almost every holy day is a vacation. This fits with what Catholics believe, which is that you need free time to honour God through rituals. But since Protestants believe that work brings glory to God, there is no need for holy days and parties. This means that companies and other businesses can run seven days a week, 365 days a year. This means that capital and other investments can be used to their fullest, which leads to more productivity.

• Protestant asceticism: The Protestant ethic also includes the idea that earthly things and flesh belong to the order of sin and death, so people should avoid the joys of the world. So, on the one hand, the Protestant ethic tells people to “accumulate and accumulate” and, on the other hand, it says that people shouldn’t use their money to have fun. This means that people will always try to make money, not to enjoy life, but just to feel good about making more and more. This is, without a doubt, a necessary condition for the growth of capitalism.

Comparative Study of Other Religions:

Now that Weber had shown that the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism were basically the same, he looked at other religions to see if they had a set of values similar to the Protestant ethic that helped capitalism grow. He found that there were many non-religious social and economic factors in China and India that were good for the growth of capitalism, but that the ethical system of Confucianism and the idea of karma in Hinduism were not. Also, the combination of religious ideals that made up the Protestant ethic was unique. It was a strange mix of two ideas that seemed to be at odds with each other: the idea that you can get as much money as you want and the idea that you shouldn’t have fun.

The people who followed Hinduism didn’t care about success in this world. For the same reason, Hindus were first in the world when it came to spiritual progress, not worldly success. The Dharma, Karma, and Punarjanama doctrines are the foundation of the Hindu faith. The Karma concept says that people get the results of their actions in their next life. But he will have to give his all to faith and God if he wants to get out of the cycle of birth and death. In this way, Hinduism emphasises discipline that isn’t tied to this world.

In the same way, Islam has stressed the right way to use money, so that no one person can have too much property.

• Right knowledge is important in both Confucianism and Buddhism. This is done through right behaviour and right meditation. It says that the right information is the only thing that can solve all of life’s problems, not money.

• In Catholicism, people are so disciplined that they can’t even think about change or building themselves up. These values have made it hard for capitalism to grow and spread.

• People who follow Judaism have always moved from one place to another in order to make a lot of money. They work hard wherever they go, but they are very greedy, so they are left out of the system. So, they couldn’t become business owners.

Was it possible that Capitalism gave rise to Protestant ethics?

• It would be wrong to think that Weber replaced a one-sided economic determinism with a one-sided “ideological determinism.” He looked at a number of factors, including social, economic, and political ones, but the values that are part of religion played a key role in the network of connections.

• Weber brought to the attention of scientists three kinds of connections between social organisation and religion ideas that he thought should be looked into further. Here’s what these ideas were:

FIRST, social groups that have different economic goals tend to be more open to some religious ideas than others. For example, peasants tend to worship nature in some way, while aristocrats tend to believe in religions that fit with their sense of standing and dignity.

SECOND, religious ideas lead to the formation of certain groups, such as monastic orders, clubs of magicians, or the clergy, and these groups can do a lot of business.

Third, the difference between the elite and the rest of the population is just as important in religion as it is in other areas. The gap between the elite and the rest of the population is a problem that all of the major world faiths have had to deal with.The Protestant church began in the 15th and 16th centuries, while modern capitalism began in the 18th century. In this way, we can see that late-arriving modern capitalism had nothing to do with the development of Protestant Ethics. But if we talk about capitalism as a whole, we would have a different reason to say that parts of it led to the development of Protestant ethics.Weber himself has said that capitalism has been around for a long time, but it wasn’t always logical. Because of this, the growth of capitalism was hard to predict. Capitalisms like booty capitalism, Pariah capitalism, and standard capitalism were all reasonable ways to run a business. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, some people got together to make capitalism solid and logical. In order to do this, they wanted to put all the basic parts of capitalism into one form. They did this by making protestant ethics, which led to the creation of protestant faith. In this way, it’s easy to see how the ideas of capitalism would have led to the development of Protestant ethics.

Critical Evaluation:

1. R H tawney: R. H. Tawney, a well-known English historian, said that Weber’s interpretation of Protestantism was based on too little real-world data. He said that England was the first place where capitalism grew. But the English Puritans didn’t believe in destiny. 2. There were parts of traditional Catholic teaching that were just as compatible with capitalism as they were with traditional Catholic teaching. But in some places where Catholics were the majority, capitalism moved very slowly. Weber seems to have missed important changes in Catholicism that happened after the Reformation and helped to modernise it from the inside.

3. The Weberian thesis of capitalism seems to be contradictory because it needs both using goods and saving money to invest in the future. The latter is helped by Protestant discipline, but the former may need hedonism. Lastly, modern Capitalists are no longer led by an ascetic view of the inner world. Hedonism is becoming more and more a part of everyday life.

4. Pointing out flaws in Weber’s theory T.C. HALL says that Calvinists should always get rich because of how they live their lives. People who live in the mountains of Scotland and hilly parts of South America are strong supporters of Calvinism, but they are poor. It shows that a person’s faith beliefs don’t make him rich; circumstances do.

5. Some of the criticisms of Weber’s thesis can be answered by saying that it was only an ideal construction that tried to find connections between some parts of Protestantism and some parts of early business capitalism. All Weber was trying to say was that the morality of the Protestant church helped bring about the rationalisation that came before modern capitalism. At no point did Weber say that it was the only reason. In fact, Weber did say that other ideal types could be made that link other factors to capitalism. So, Weber’s theory shouldn’t be taken as a general theory of how capitalism grew. Weber also makes it clear that the spirit of capitalism was only one part of it, even though it was an important part. Along with the spirit, there are other parts that make up what we call modern capitalism. The private holding of the means of production is one of these parts.

• Progress in technology to the point where production can be estimated ahead of time. For example, the use of machines or robotics.

• Work was once free.

• Putting capitalist companies together into joint stock companies.

• Calculable law, which is the system of law that applies to everyone and is handled fairly.

The best kind of modern business is based on these things.


1. Weber’s theory of Protestant Ethics and the Rise of Capitalism (religion and business) is based on hard work and the rational organisation of production. Weber thinks that both of these things were true of Calvinists because they were morally driven to do so by their religion.

Weber has also talked about the fact that Calvinists are so forward-thinking that they have been given the chance to make changes everywhere, which means that they change their religion as a whole. Now, if the same thing happens in other parts of the world, like when people who follow other faiths become more open to change, we could say that this is a parallel process to Calvinism. In this way, you could say that even people who don’t know about Calvinism become capitalists because they accept all of these parts of protestant religion, whether they know it or not.

3. It’s against the law for capitalism to grow in other places of the world. The problem T.C. Hall talked about is about “physical resources.” It’s clear that Weber hasn’t forgotten about these things, since he has made it clear in his theory that two things are needed for modern capitalism to grow. Matters of fact and heart. So, substance means the things that make up the world. It means that capitalism didn’t grow in some places because there didn’t seem to be enough real resources.


Weber Economy theory is important in two ways:

Capitalism has grown all over the world, among people of all religions, and in many Asian countries like Japan, China, India, the Asian Tigers, and Islamic countries. Even though people in these countries follow different faiths, capitalism works and is growing. All faiths are changing, and people are becoming more open-minded, which pulls them towards capitalism. It’s the same on other countries, too. WEBER IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE WHEREVER PEOPLE WORK HARD, THEIR RELIGION WILL BECOME AN INSPIRATIONAL FACTOR THAT MAKES THEM CAPITALISTS.

2. Weber’s relevance can be seen in other areas where people want to do well, such as politics, the media, the film industry, management, the fashion industry, social work, and so on. People are getting known and famous in all of these areas by working hard and being inspired by religious values.

An Assessment Of Weber:

1. Weber was a prolific writer and an original thinker. He used his knowledge of history, philosophical tradition, religious systems, and social structures to improve his ideas and create general theoretical frameworks for a wide range of social events.

2. Weber was afraid of the kind of conceptual ramifications he saw in the works of Marx and Durkheim, so he didn’t try to make sense of the whole social world with all of its different parts and many different effects.

But he looked at how structures and processes work together and how they affect each other. From this, he made a clear social mosaic that shows the whole while keeping the parts’ ability to work on their own. Weber was a man of values, but not a man of faith. He believed strongly in certain values, but in scientific work, he insisted on objectivity. 4. Weber made so many important contributions to modern sociology that he can be considered one of the founding fathers of modern sociology. He gave sociology a new way of looking at the nature of its subjects and laid the groundwork for analytical sociology. He also did deep research on important parts of western society, such as social stratification, bureaucracy, logic, and the growth of capitalism.

5. He also worked hard to create typologies, especially in the field of political sociology. Even though he defined sociology as an interpretive understanding of social action, most of his work was focused on building typologies and generalisations of empirical nature rather than looking into social phenomena through an interpretive understanding of behaviour. This is a major flaw in his work.

6.By looking at sociology from the point of view of social action, he showed how important subjective meanings and motivations are for understanding how people act in groups. Weber’s view was an alternative to the positivist method in sociology and a way to fix it. By taking a deterministic view, positivists like Durkheim had almost completely ignored the role of the subjectivity of the person in shaping how people act in groups. They had only looked at things about social activity that could be seen from the outside. So, Weber’s focus on studying the subjective side was a corrective to the positivist’s overly socially determinist point of view.

7. Another important thing Weber did was to improve the way social scientists do research. Weber’s method is important for three reasons:

• Causal pluralism: Weber says that social reality is very complicated, so no social phenomenon can be fully described by a single cause. Because of this, a good sociological theory must be based on the idea of multiple causes.

• Ideal type: Weber thought that the human mind couldn’t fully understand social reality in a single try because it was so complicated and varied. So, if you want to try to study social reality, you have to look at one part of it at a time. So, social scientists should make a one-sided model of the event that only takes into account and emphasises the parts that need to be studied. This form with only one side has been called a “ideal type.” Weber admitted that when he talked about the ideal type, he wasn’t saying anything very new. In fact, social scientists had been making ideal types for a long time without realising it. So, Weber’s input is important because he was the first person to talk about the need to build ideal types.

• The “Verstehen” method was the way he thought social activity should be understood in an interpretive way. Weber thought that the methods of positive science alone weren’t enough to study social behaviour in depth. He thought that they needed to be paired with new methods that are typical of social science. Alfred Schultz, on the other hand, has said that Weber is wrong in this way. He says that Verstehen is not a method but a way of thinking that takes the social and cultural world into account but has nothing to do with analysis.

8. Weber’s research on power, authority, bureaucracy, and other related topics has led to more research in political sociology. Weber’s studies have influenced studies of political parties, political elite and pressure groups, voting behaviour, bureaucracy, and political changes in both developed and developing countries.

9. Weber was one of the first sociologists to try to look at how people act in their economic lives in the setting of society.Many scholars followed Weber’s lead in taking this method. Instead of looking at economic events in isolation, as people had done before, Sombart, Schumpeter, and John Strachey have tried to look at them as part of the whole social system.

10. Weber’s impact on Schumpeter’s work is clear. Weber once said that the Puritans saw work as a calling, but we are driven to do the same. Schumpeter has said more about this point as well. In his book, he says that the main reason capitalism will fall apart is because people will reject bourgeois ideals, not because the economy will fall apart. In their book “Economy and Society,” Parsons and Smelser tried to show, in the same way that Weber’s work did, that economic theory is just one part of social theory as a whole. Economists like Arthur Lewis have realised the importance of sociological factors like the desire for goods, attitude towards work, influence of property system, social mobility, religious and family structures, population growth, the role of government, etc. in determining economic growth.

11. From the start, Weber admitted that perfect causation is not possible in social sciences. You can make general claims that only show trends, like the one between Protestant ethics and capitalism. Social experts of the present day agree with this point of view. Bottomore said that these kinds of statements would look like this: Whenever there are situations of type C, there will be trends of type T. Weber’s works on the origins of capitalism, the rise of modern bureaucracy, and the economic effects of world religions are all good examples of this way of thinking. In his book White Collar, C.W. Mills took the same method.

12. The traditional Marxist view has been corrected by Weber’s focus on multiple causes and the role of ideas in social change. Weber’s theory of social division and his ideas about what socialism is are closer to what actually happens than Marx’s ideas. From Tawney to the present, historians and sociologists have been building on Weber’s changes to the Marxists’ story of how capitalism began. Birnbaum, Austin, and Turner are three of the most important people who have taken this method to social problems.


Even though he didn’t start any schools, he had an impact on every school and area of sociology with his well-researched studies, which are full of insights, cover a wide range of topics, and are based on a lot of data from the past and present. Even though Karl Marx laid the groundwork for the conflict method to the study of social events. But for this method to work in modern cultures, it had to be rethought in light of Weber’s criticisms and suggestions for changes. So, C.W. Mills’s and Ralf Dahrendorf’s and other modern conflict theorists’ works show that Weber’s ideas have left a clear mark on them. Even people like Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas, etc., who were part of the Frankfurt School of thought, were inspired by Weber’s ideas.