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Basic Concepts in Sociology

Introduction Max Weber (1864-1920) is one of the greatest social scientists of late XIX – early XX centuries, who had a great influence on the development of science. In the methodology of his one of the most important achievements is the introduction of ideal types. Ideal types can make the historical or social materials more meaningful than it was in the real life experience.

Weber’s ideas permeate the building of modern sociology, accounting for its foundation. Weber’s creative legacy is enormous. He contributed to the theory and methodology, laid the foundations of industry trends sociology of bureaucracy, religion, cities and labor (Weber, 1993).

Weber created many scientific publications, including: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (original – 1904 to 1905, translation – 1930), General Economic History – The Social Causes of the Decay of Ancient Civilisation (original – 1927, translation – 1950), Economy and Society (1922), General Economic History (1923), Critique of Stammler (translation – 1977), Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology (translation – 1978), the book Basic Concepts in Sociology (translation – 1962) (Weber, 1993).

The book Basic Concepts in Sociology, written by Maximilian Weber was published in Germany in 1930, but various English translations exist. The first one known of these was written in 1952. The book has six chapters, which are: Methodological foundations, social action, social relationship, social order, Social band and ruleship.

In Basic Concepts in Sociology Weber developed the doctrine of “interpretive sociology”, which requires an understanding of the meaning of human activities, based on this explanation of human actions. Social action is oriented on social norms, or on expectations from other people. Ideal type of connecting people is based on a single language or on a single market economy. Weber studied the relationship between religion and the social structure within a set of religious teachings and in different epochs. Religious and ethical ideas can go beyond their social media and become the spiritual guidance of civilization. This idea in Western Europe is ethics “mastering the world” (Weber, 1993). Concept of global rationalization process, the theory of social action, the idea of ??political sociology comparative-historical sociology, sociology of religion have had a great influence on the development of the sociology of the XX century.

The first chapter is talking about methodological principles. They are closely linked to the theoretical situation of Western social science at the end of XIX century. It is particularly important to understand Weber’s attitude to ideas of Dilthey and Neo-Kantians. The fact that human behavior is amenable to meaningful interpretation involves the specific difference of the science of human behavior (sociology) from the natural sciences. Sociology (in the sense of the implicit ambiguous word) is the science that wants to understand the way social action is interpreted and thus cause it to explain its occurrence and its consequences (Weber, 1993).

In chapter two, Weber identified six types of social action:

1. The right type, in which the goal and chosen means are objectively adequate to each other and, therefore, are strictly rational.

2. Type, in which the chosen means to catch the goal seem most adequate for person. Objectively so, they cannot be.

3. Approximated action, without a clearly defined purpose and means, on the basis of “maybe something happens.”

4. The action, which has no exact purpose depends on your circumstances and is understandable only to their count;

5. The action is only partly understandable. It includes a number of confusing features.

6. The action caused by incomprehensible psychological or physical factors is inexplicable from a rational position (Weber, 1993).

In chapter three, he says that social relationship entirely and exclusively lies in the possibility that social behavior and will wear available definition of character: it is not important on what feature it is based. The sign of this concept is the level of relationship of one individual to another (Weber, 1993). The content of this relationship can be very different: the struggle, hatred, love, friendship, etc.

In chapter four, according to Weber, the division into classes is not just due to man’s conquest of the property or the exercise of a full or partial control of the means of production, but also due to economic differences, not directly related to the property. Such skills and qualifications determine the type of the employee. Qualification, a diploma and skills of workers also are basic divisions of society into classes. Max Weber sees two reasons for stratification. These are: the status of the man and his party affiliation. Status reveals the difference between the social groups or individuals in their social prestige in the society. Differences in status people differ from differences in their belonging to a particular class. Privileged by their status include people who occupy a privileged place in the social structure (Weber, 1993). An important aspect of power, according to Max Weber, is acting in contemporary society party. It affects social stratification, regardless of class and status of the person. The party is a group of individuals who have common goals and interests and compatible activities. Weber’s views on the theory of stratification are extremely important in terms of methodology, since they show that in addition to class differences impact on the lives and activities of people with other social differences.

In chapter five, Weber, in principle, recognizes the correct division of the population into classes on the basis of the presence or absence of the ownership of capital and the means of production. Weber believed that in social stratification, there are three different inequality measures. One is an economic inequality, which Weber called the position of the class. The second indicator is the status or social prestige, and the third is power. Weber considers the attitude to power (political parties) and prestige as one of the most important features of a social class (Weber, 1993).

Chapter six is talking about Weber’s sociological doctrine of power that distinguishes between three types of legitimate domination: legal (or formal-rational), patriarchal and charismatic. The desire to participate in the authority of power is a content of politics. All political party organizations focused on fighting for the patronage of management positions. You can counter this by targeted training professional managers, highly skilled professionals of government, free of party affiliation. Major subsystems include any party leaders and their retinue and turnout (Weber, 1993).


Having examined the subject with a full assessment it can be concluded that Weber brought with his appearance a huge store of science concepts needed by society, which is still used as a fundamental in various sciences, such as management, planning, etc. His work may have already surpassed, but it remains timeless. Whether we are talking about interpretive sociology, the ideal type, the distinction between a value judgment and referred to the values ??of the subjective sense of behavior as an independent object of scientific interest sociologist contrast agents understand their behavior and sociology, it can be discussed eternally.


Weber, M. (1993). Basic concepts in sociology. Secaucus, N.J: Carol Pub. Group.