Max Weber Essay

MAX WEBER I. INTRODUCTION A) Biography Birth name: Karl Emil Maximilian Weber Birth date: April 21 1864 (Erfurt, Germany) Parents: Max Weber Sr. and Helene Fallenstein Death: June 14, 1920 (Munich, Germany) Spouse: Marianne Schnitger (feminist and author) * Studied in the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin and was trained in law. * He taught in various universities in Germany until 1897 when he suffered a nervous breakdown due to his father’s death. His illness forced him to withdraw from his teaching duties in 1903. Even though he wasn’t teaching, Weber still continued to work by studying various philosophical and religious topics, which led him to publish a number of essays and, most especially, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, which is considered his most famous work.

* During the first World War, Weber became a fervent supporter of the German’s aims for war and even volunteered to be part of the army but he later changed his views and became one of the most prominent critics of Kaiser’s war policies. He was invited to join the draft board of the Weimar Constitution as well as the German delegation to Versailles and even ran for a parliamentary seat. * Frustrated with the state of politics, he returned to teaching in 1919 and briefly taught in the Universities of Vienna and Munich and was compiling his writings on religion but his scholarly activities was ended abruptly in 1920 when he died of Pneumonia at the age of fifty six.

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B) Current History * At the beginning of World War 1, Max Weber supported enthusiastically the German aims and volunteered for the Army. In 1915, he changed his mind and became a pacifist.After the war Weber helped draft the constitution of the Weimar Republic and founded the German Democratic Party. But he slowly took distance with the new republic, loathe of the slowness and inefficiencies of political parties.

* One of Weber’s most serious concerns was how society would maintain control over expanding state bureaucracies. He felt the most serious problem was not inefficiency or mismanagement but the increased power of public officials. A person in an important, specialized position will become to realize how dependent their bosses are on their expertise and begin to exercise their power in that position.

Furthermore, the staff also began to associate with the special social interests of their particular group or organization. Over history this has caused the shift in power from the leaders of society to the bureaucrats * Weber’s philosophical worldview, if not coherent philosophy, was informed by the deep crisis of the Enlightenment project in fin-de-siecle Europe, which was characterized by the intellectual revolt against positivist reason, a celebration of subjective will and intuition, and a neo-Romantic longing for spiritual wholesomeness [Hughes 1977].In other words, Weber belonged to a generation of self-claimed epigones who had to struggle with the legacies of Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche. As such, the philosophical backdrop to his thoughts will be outlined here along two axes: epistemology and ethics. II. PHILOSOPHY A) Theory of Bureaucracy – According to Weber, bureaucracy is not a type of political system but a “continues professionalized and rule-governed form of administration”. “It is a legal rational form of domination described as eliminating all personal, irrational and emotional elements from administration and bureaucratic administration subordinating the individual to the rational, specialized division of labor and an increasing rationalization of all spheres of social life. ” * According to institutional definitions, bureaucracy is a branch of government that provides us, the citizens, with the basic services that we need on a daily basis.

* Bureaucracy is the fourth branch of government which brings the people and government together. It provides continuity and stability during periods of transition (during elections when some current officials have to leave due to an electoral loss, and they are replaced by newly-elected individuals). * 6 Basic Types of Bureaucratic Structure: (1) States which tend to control policy and policing functions (2) Religious groups which are required to administer goods and coordinate functions (3) Economics whose main function is to distribute goods and coordinate functions (4) Modern Agency (5) The military (6) The judiciary * Factor leading to the development of a bureaucratic means of administration: 1) Changes in the conditions and organization of society (2) Changes taking place in the system of rationality and decisions-making * Weber relates development of bureaucratic administration system with the development of modern system. * Linked it to the means of administration, means of violence, means of research, etc. * Characteristics of Bureaucracy: (1) Presence of hierarchical chain of command, existence of a clearly defined structure of officers and positions with corresponding responsibilities, and use of procedurally-correct decision-making (2) Application of a system of impersonal rules 3) Explicit statement of the rights and duties of officials(4) Granting of contractually-fixed salaries.

(5) Implementation of a system of impersonal guidelines for dealing with and defining work responsibilities, and of a system of decision –making based on technical knowledge and expertise. (6) Development of a clearly defined division of labor founded on functional specialization of tasks and a well-defined hierarchy of authority (7) Use of a system where norms of impersonality govern interpersonal relations. (8) Application of a system of impersonal contacts between the officials and the public.

9) Implementation of a decision-making process based on written documentation and orientation to file keeping. (10) Presence of a system of discharging responsibilities based on calculable rules which are impersonal. Bureaucracy and Domination * Bureaucracy is the major source of authority in modern societies. * Weber says, “Every domination expresses itself and functions through administration and every administration needs domination, because it is always necessary that some powers of command be in the hands of somebody”.

* Domination is different from power because the former implies legitimacy while the latter does not. In a system where there is domination, the individuals follow the rules and regulations not because they are compelled to follow by some physical force; rather, they obey because they believe that the rules and regulations are legitimate. * Domination is an order which enjoys the prestige of being considered binding, or, as it may be expressed, of legitimacy. * Ideal Types of Bureaucracy * A conceptual pattern which brings together certain relationships and events of historical life into a complex which is conceived of as an internally consistent system. * 3 Forms: (a) Historical Ideal Types b) Abstract Ideal Types (c) Types of Action – Used methodology to further understand(Rationality and Rationalization) B) LEGITIMATE TYPES OF AUTHORITY/DOMINATION * Weber’s concern with the concept of domination was first expressed in his work Economy and Society.

Here, he deals with changes in political institutions found in modern societies and how political power is manifested at different times and in different places. * How do those systems differ? * “In terms of the way commands are issued by rulers” * “The extent to which obedience can be expected from individuals to whom commands are issued” Two Central Elements of the Concept of Domination (identified by Weber) * “Concern for legitimacy and the subjects’ perception that authority is legitimate. ”* “The development of an administrative staff that will carry out the orders. ” *Legitimacy – “perception that the rulers procedures for making and implementing laws, rules and policies are acceptable and valid in the eyes of the people.

” * Four Bases for the Differences among the Different Systems of Domination (1) System’s claim to legitimacy 2) Kind of obedience which the system derives from the people (3) Kind of administrative staff established to implement laws, rules and policies. (4) Manner by which the system exercises authority or domination. * Sources of Legitimacy of Any Order (1) From purely disinterested motives. * Purely affectual motives * Rational beliefs * Religious attitudes (2) Pure self-interest or expectations of particular outcomes. * The Three Types of Legitimate Domination A.

Legal Domination * Also referred to as legal-rational or bureaucratic domination. Authority is said to be based on reason and on formally defined and accepted processes * Exercise of authority depends on their acceptance of due legal processes and their possession of the right qualifications (as determined through the merit system) * The people comply “on the basis of principles of law rather than the personal authority of the leader. ” * The people owe allegiance to the state and the government, but not to any particular individual who is temporarily occupying a governmental position. * Both officials and the people owe are subject to the laws of the land.The law applies to all equally. How is the Legal type of Domination related to Weber’s concept of Bureaucracy? * The characteristics associated with bureaucracy are the very same characteristics possessed by the legal type of domination (Rationality, impersonal rules, legality, hierarchal division of labor, clearly defined tasks and responsibilities, efficiency and precision) B.

Traditional Domination * Found in systems where roles, customs and practices are accepted parts of the people’s everyday lives. Authority is not based on any “legal” precept but on family lineage. * People’s compliance with authority is founded on a network of obligations linking the people to their personal leader by personal loyalties. * Unlike in the legal type of domination, people obey not an impersonal legal order but a particular individual leader.

* Traditional leaders obtain authority by: (1) the prestige conferred by tradition and by the belief that the ruler’s commands are valid because of the authority inherent in the office or status of the leader. 2) virtue of the discretionary powers which are given to them by titles or hereditary claims to power. * Authority is not based on legal precepts but on customs, traditions, rites and rituals. * Weber believed that traditional systems of domination tend to resist bureaucratic development. C. Charismatic Domination * Authority is based on extraordinary qualities possessed by a leader.

* In this case, the leader plays a very central role in the running of the system. * According to Weber, the term “charisma” has something to do with a “certain quality of an individual’s personality which is considered xtraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or exceptional powers and qualities. ” * There are two sources of legitimacy for charismatic domination: (1) People’s belief that the leader should be followed because of his extraordinary capacity to inspire people.

(2) Degree of “felt duty” to follow their leader. * The very nature of charismatic domination rests on shaky grounds since once the leader is replaced or dies, the entire system may crumble. The leader may also find it difficult to command the people when they view him as no longer possessing the charisma. * However, according to Weber, the charismatic leader can think of ways to make his authority more stable by: (1) Focusing on the ideal goals rather than on the material world (2) Setting into texts or doctrines the revelations that attest to the leader’s powers and capabilities. (3) Separating the charismatic authority from the individual so that legitimacy is no longer focused on the individual leader.


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