‘The Changing Picture of Max Weber’s Sociology’, Annual Review of Sociology, 29, pp. 283—306
For several decades the general picture of Max Weber in sociology, and especially in American sociology, has roughly been as follows: Weber’s main contribution to the social sciences is to be found in his sociology, which is comparative in nature and based on an immense richness of historical material. Two of his most important concepts are domination and legitimation, and he especially made contributions to sociology through his studies of religion and politics. From a theoretical viewpoint, Weber assigned special importance to the way that the actor understands his or her actions (verstehen), and these actions can be grouped into his four types of social action (instrumentally rational, value-rational, affectual, and traditional). Weber had a good eye for Realpolitik and can be described as a liberal in despair. The world, as he saw it, was increasingly being rationalized and bureaucratized; it was turning into an iron cage.