Max Weber

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  • Created on: 19-04-16 13:26
What does 'Methodenstreit' translate to?
Method dispute.
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What were the two competing schools in the Methodenstreit, and who represented each of them?
Classical school - Menger. Historical school - Schmoller.
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How did the classical and historical schools believe social science should be approached?
Classical - Need to identify laws of society and use the methods of the natural sciences. Historical - Devise new method by looking at historical character of societies. Societies develop in historical stages, are fundamentally diff. from each other.
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What was Weber's position regarding the Methodenstreit?
Search for law-like regularities impossible in social science. Social sciences seek knowledge of 'the inner subjective states of individuals', whilst natural sciences seek objective facts.
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How did Marx and Weber differ in their view on the purpose of social theory?
Marx believed in a historical obligation to change society, rather than simply observe it. Weber believed ultimate task was to gather historical facts and patterns.
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How did Marx and Weber differ in their ways of critiquing society?
Marx's social theory and critique of society was based on value judgements. Weber less direct in criticism of society, believing social science should be neutral.
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What is the term used to refer to Weber's focus on human understanding and 'inner states' in his methodology?
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What is an ideal type?
A model used for the scrutiny and systematic characterisation of a concrete situation.
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What is the main purpose of the ideal type?
To describe historical societies by comparing their internal external characteristics.
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Give three examples of ideal types.
Protestantism, feudalism and capitalism.
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What is rationalisation?
The process by which nature, society and individuals are increasingly mastered by an orientation to planning, technical procedure and rational action.
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How have Western societies rationalised in the economic, political and legal spheres?
Economic: commercial activity based on technical rules calculated to produce profit. Political: decline of absolute monarchies, governance based on legitimacy and democratic law. Legal: decision making based on precedent, universal principles.
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What are the two key trends in rationalisation?
1) Tendency to rely more on calculation and technical knowledge. 2) Tendency for human social action to free itself from dependence on magical thinking.
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What was the key relationship Weber focused on in 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'?
People actively involved in the capitalist system (e.g. business leaders and owners of capital) are overwhelmingly Protestant.
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How did Weber define the spirit of capitalism, encouraged by the writings of Franklin?
The spirit of capitalism has the effect of putting forward expectation of hard work, restraint in life conduct, and pursuit of wealth as a moral duty.
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What was the most significant opponent to the capitalist ethic, and what did this mindset entail?
In order to increase productivity rates, an employer raises pay. However, rather than work harder, the workers may actually work less because they can reduce their workload and still make the amount of money required for survival.
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What is elective affinity?
Refers to the coherence between the teachings of Protestantism and the capitalist enterprise. 'An elective affinity between Protestantism and capitalism.'
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What is the role of God in the Calvinist predestination doctrine?
When the world began, God divided all humanity into the saved and the damned, with eternal fate either for everlasting salvation and grace or everlasting death and dishonour.
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Why did Calvinists distance themselves from the Church?
Believed nothing could be done to change the fate decided for them by God.
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What was the cause of salvation anxiety?
Not knowing one's fate - whether one was a member of the saved or the damned.
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What two means emerged for Calvinists to cope psychologically with not knowing their preordained fate?
1) Considered a duty to consider oneself one of the saved, and to see doubts as the temptations of evil. 2) Worldly activity encouraged as the best means of gaining and demonstrating self-confidence.
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Who developed the idea of a calling, and what does the term refer to?
Martin Luther. Refers to a task set by God, a life-task, a definite field in which to work.
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What is asceticism and what is its religious purpose?
A form of self-denial - probation of spontaneous enjoyment and worldly pleasure. Religiously, thought to bring moral elevation.
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What did Weber believe asceticism achieved at the end of the eighteenth century?
Escaped religious sphere and penetrated everyday life by shaping economic conduct.
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Give three examples of bureaucratic organisations. (Six given on flip side.)
States which control policy; ecclesiastical communities administering to large populations of believers; economies whose function is to distribute goods and coordinate services; the modern agency; the military; the judiciary.
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What type of rationality did Weber argue governs all human action?
Means-end rationality.
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What has happened to means-end rationality as societies have modernised?
Means have become increasingly more precise in calculating the methodological attainment of given ends.
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What does 'formal rationality' involve?
Quantitative reasoning and accounting procedures. Measurement and calculable activity. Eliminates orientation to values.
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What are the three ways in which bureaucracies are technically superior, according to Weber?
Precision, speed, and knowledge of files/cases.
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What are the other forms of administration, and why are they inferior to bureaucracy?
Administration by notables and collegiate bodies. Less efficient because interests of individual inevitable conflict and bring about compromises between views.
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In what four ways does bureaucracy promote the development of capitalism?
Carries out administrative functions with maximum objective consideration and efficiency; rapid discharge of business activity by adherence to rules; dehumanises decision making; associated w emergence of rational law --> business/commerce.
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What are the five key characteristics of bureaucracy?
Hierarchy, universal rules, public-private distinction, officials appointed on basis of competence/expertise, and division of labour.
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What are the three key features of hierarchy in a bureaucracy?
Levels of graded authority. Supervision of lower offices by higher ones. Governed have possibility of appealing decision of a lower office to its higher authority.
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What is the key feature of universal rules in a bureaucracy?
Adherence to universal rules always prevails over ethical considerations.
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How does Weber describe modern loyalty, particularly in relation to the public-private distinction?
Modern loyalty is not devoted to a person, but to impersonal and functional purposes.
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Why does Weber criticise the process of the election of officials? Two reasons.
An official who is elected does not derive his position 'from above' but 'from below'. Career is not necessarily depended upon his superior. Also, election of officials endangers expert qualification.
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Why is it preferable that an official is appointed by a superior?
More functional points of consideration and qualities will determine his selection and career.
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Why should bureaucracy be 'dehumanised'?
To eliminate all purely personal, irrational and emotional elements from business.
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How does Weber describe the official in relation to the system as a whole?
A single cog in an ever moving-mechanism... Forged to all other functionaries in the mechanism... They all have a common interest in seeing that the mechanism continues its functions.
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What is demanded by both bureaucracy and democracy?
Equality before the law.
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How are democracy and bureaucracy fundamentally opposed?
Weber criticises the election of officials.
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Why do democrats criticise the appointment of officials based on educational certificates?
Risk of generation of a privileged 'caste'.
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What does Robert Michelo suggest may be the consequence of bureaucracy?
Socialist parties - pursuit of equality demands organisation through trade unions, which required bureaucratisation. Bureaucracies become deeply hierarchical and are undemocratic by nature. Organisation takes on life of its own, loses original aim.
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What contradiction does Mommsen identify in Weber's work on bureaucracy?
Acknowledges benefits of the efficiency of bureaucracy in social, political and economic organisation, but also that it threatens leadership and individual initiative, and therefore individual freedom.
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How does bureaucracy stifle individual freedom?
Operations pursued according to strict rules. Emphasis on answerability. Discourages development of genuine leadership qualities.
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How does bureaucracy threaten liberal order?
Insufficient checks.
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How does Weber conclude the debate between bureaucracy and liberal order?
No alternative to bureaucracy if we are to maintain the standards of modern civilisation.
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How did Zygmund Bauman criticise Weber's work on bureaucracy?
Rise of modern nation state results in distinctions between 'friend and enemy'. Introlderance towards ppl w national ambivalence. E.g. Targeting of Jews. Bureaucracy undermines the notion of individual responsibility. Holocaust actions consistent.
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How did Adorno and Horkheimer develop Weber's thinking?
Rationalisation no longer contained within economic sphere - has also permeated cultural sphere. 'Production of culture' - ideology that masks/justified inequalities created by capitalism. Not only alienated at work but during leisure time.
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How does Ritzer identify the extension of rationalisation in modern societies? What is his book called?
Book: 'The McDonaldisation of Society' - McDonalds indicative of shifts occurring in society. Spread of chain, new standardisation of product, element of predictability of consumption practices, organisation of material.
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How does Power comment on rationalisation in modern societies?
Increasingly, state funded organisations need to be scrutinised - measurement used to quantify and rank organisations. Organisations punished/rewarded for performing, or not. E.g. Ofsted?
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What were the two competing schools in the Methodenstreit, and who represented each of them?


Classical school - Menger. Historical school - Schmoller.

Card 3


How did the classical and historical schools believe social science should be approached?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What was Weber's position regarding the Methodenstreit?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


How did Marx and Weber differ in their view on the purpose of social theory?


Preview of the front of card 5
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