chapter  5
Max Weber
Pages 25

Max Weber was a German social thinker who excelled in many different fields, including sociology, economics, history, law, jurisprudence, and linguistics. He was a person of encyclopedic knowledge who displayed scholarly brilliance at an early age; he quickly learned other languages as these provided access to materials helpful in his worldwide investigations. His areas of research ranged from studies of Polish farm workers to ancient religions and medieval entrepreneurs (Hadden, 1997). Weber, like Marx, spent a great deal of time analyzing the effects of industrialization on society. Unlike Marx, Weber lived long enough to see many of the benefits of industrialization (e.g., a rising standard of living for a greater number of people), but he also paid close attention to a number of new problems (e.g., increased rationalization, depersonalization in the decision-making process, the negative role of bureaucracy) that were not so apparent during Marx’s era. Weber hoped to explain why industrialization rose as a socioeconomic system in some parts of the world but not in others. He tied the work ethic of the Protestant religion to the spirit of capitalism as his answer. Weber is also well known for his studies on types of authority and social class and inequality. Clearly, a number of Weber’s concepts and contributions are still relevant today.