ABSTRACT

Alfred Weber was an important contributor to the debate about civilization and culture in the first part of the twentieth century, particularly in Germany.

The importance of this essay is the way in which Alfred Weber draws on Dilthey's attempt to construct a sociology of culture, as well as Tönnies's image of Gesellschaft where the concept of civilization is transposed into that of society. Alfred Weber works further with these two currents to develop distinctions between social processes, which refer to the material world, civilizational processes, which refer to the world of high culture, and culture movement, which refers to cultural innovation. In this essay, Alfred Weber draws on both notions of culture and civilization, and moves them to a higher level of abstraction and generalizability beyond the concerns with identity so prevalent, for example, in the essay by Thomas Mann. Alfred Weber was also to draw on the image of civilization as a means for national reflexivity in a later essay at the end of the Second World War entitled Farewell to European History or The Conquest of Nihilism (1945).