Max Weber

Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economist who was one of the central figures in the development of sociology and the social sciences more generally. His ideas continue to influence social theory and research.

Born in Erfurt in 1864, Weber studied law and history in Berlin, Göttingen, and Heidelberg. After earning his doctorate in law in 1889 and habilitation in 1891, he married his cousin Marianne Schnitger and taught in Freiburg and Heidelberg. In 1897, he had a breakdown after his father died following an argument. Weber ceased teaching and travelled until the early 1900s. He recovered and wrote ''The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism''. During the First World War, he initially supported Germany's war effort but became critical of it and supported democratisation. He also gave the lectures "Science as a Vocation" and "Politics as a Vocation". After the war, Weber co-founded the German Democratic Party, unsuccessfully ran for office, and advised the drafting of the Weimar Constitution. Becoming frustrated with politics, he resumed teaching in Vienna and Munich. He possibly contracted the Spanish flu and died of pneumonia in 1920 at the age of 56. A book, ''Economy and Society'', was left unfinished.

One of Weber's main intellectual concerns was in understanding the processes of rationalisation, secularisation, and disenchantment. He formulated a thesis arguing that such processes were associated with the rise of capitalism and modernity. Weber also argued that the Protestant work ethic influenced the creation of capitalism in ''The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism''. It was the earliest part in his broader consideration of the world religions, as he later examined the religions of China, India, and ancient Judaism. In terms of government, Weber argued that states were defined by their monopoly on violence and categorised social authority into three distinct forms: charismatic, traditional, and rational-legal. He was also a key proponent of methodological antipositivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive rather than purely empiricist methods. Weber made a variety of other contributions to economic sociology, political sociology, and the sociology of religion.

After his death, the rise of Weberian scholarship was slowed by the Weimar Republic's political instability and the rise of Nazi Germany. In the post-war era, organised scholarship began to appear, led by Talcott Parsons, who used Weber's works to support his idea of structural functionalism. Over the course of the twentieth century, Weber's reputation rose due to the publication of translations of his works and scholarly interpretations of his life and works. He began to be regarded as a founding father of sociology, alongside Karl Marx and Émile Durkheim. As a result of these works, Weber is commonly regarded as one of the central figures in the development of the social sciences. Provided by Wikipedia
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