Maximilian Karl Emil “Max” Weber was a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist. His ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Take a look below for 30 more awesome and interesting facts about Max Weber.
1. Weber was a key proponent of methodological anti-positivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive, rather than purely empiricist, means, based on understanding the purpose and meaning that individuals attach to their own actions.
2. Unlike Durkheim, he didn’t believe in mono-causality and rather proposed that for any outcome there can be multiple causes.
3. Weber’s main intellectual concern was understanding the processes of rationalization, secularization and “disenchantment” that he associated with the rise of capitalism and modernity.
4. Weber is best known for his thesis combining economic sociology and the sociology of religion, elaborated in his book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” in which he proposed that ascetic Protestantism was one of the major “elective affinities” associated with the rise in the Western World of market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state.
5. He argued that it was in the basic tenets of Protestantism to boost capitalism.
6. Against Marx’s historical materialism, Weber emphasized the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism.
7. The “Protestant Ethic” formed the earliest part in Weber’s broader investigations into world religion.
8. He went on to examine the religions of China, the religions of India and ancient Judaism, with particular regard to their differing economic consequences and conditions of social stratification.
9. In another major work, “Politics as a Vocation,” Weber defined the state as an entity that successfully claims a, “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”
10. He was the first to categorize social authority into distinct forms, which he labelled as charismatic, traditional and rational-legal.
11. His analysis of bureaucracy emphasized that modern state institutions are increasingly based on rational-legal authority.
12. Weber made a variety of contributions in economic history, as well as economic theory and methodology.
13. Weber’s analysis of modernity and rationalization significantly influenced the critical theory associated with the Frankfurt School.
14. After the First World War, Weber was among the founders of the liberal German Democratic Party.
15. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament and served as advisor to the committee that drafted the ill-fated democratic Weimar Constitution of 1919.
16. Weber was born on April 21, 1864, to Max Weber Sr., a political lawyer with a penchant for “earthly pleasures,” and Helene Fallenstein Weber, who preferred a more ascetic lifestyle.
17. He grew up in a house full of prominent intellectual and lively discourse, an environment in which Weber thrived in.
18. Growing up, he was bored with school and disdained his teachers, but ate up classic literature on his own.
19. After graduating from high school, Weber studied law, history, philosophy and economics for three semesters at Heidelberg University before spending a year in the military.
20. When he resumed his studies in 1884, he went to the University of Berlin and spent one semester at Gottingen.
21. Weber married a distant cousin, Marianne Schnitger, in 1893.
22. In 1893, he got a job teaching economics at Freiburg University, before returning to Heidelberg in 1896 as a professor.
23. In 1897, Weber had a falling out with his father, which went unresolved.
24. After his father died in 1897, Weber suffered a mental breakdown.
25. He was plagued by depression, anxiety and insomnia, which made it impossible for him to teach. He spent the next five years in and out of sanatoriums.
26. When Weber was finally able to resume working in 1903, he became an editor at a prominent social science journal.
27. In 1904, he was invited to deliver a lecture at the Congress of Art and Sciences at St. Louis, Missouri, and later became widely known for his famed essays.
28. Weber contracted the Spanish Flu and died of pneumonia in Munich on June 14, 1920.
29. At the time of his death, Weber hadn’t finished writing his magnum opus on sociological theory: Economy and Society.
30. His widow, Marianne, helped prepare “Economy and Society” for publication in 1921.