Classical Sociological Theory, 4e
Classical Sociological Theory
Max Weber’s Methodology
Max Weber (1864-1920)
argued against abstract theory, and he favored an approach to
sociological inquiry that generated its theory from rich, systematic, empirical, historical
This approach required, first of all, an examination of the relationships
between, and the respective roles of, history and sociology in inquiry.
Weber argued that
sociology was to develop concepts for the analysis of concrete phenomena, which would
allow sociologists to then make generalizations about historical phenomena.
the other hand, would use a lexicon of sociological concepts in order to perform causal
analysis of particular historical events, structures, and processes.
In scholarly practice,
according to Weber, sociology and history are interdependent.
Weber contended that understanding, or
, was the proper way of studying social
Derived from the interpretive practice known as hermeneutics, the method
strives to understand the meanings that human beings attribute to their
experiences, interactions, and actions.
Weber construed v
as a methodical,
systematic, and rigorous form of inquiry that could be employed in both macro- and
Weber’s formulation of causality stresses the great variety of factors that may precipitate
the emergence of complex phenomena such as modern capitalism.
argued that social scientists, unlike natural scientists, must take into account the meanings
that actors attribute to their interactions when considering causality.
sought a middle ground between nomothetic (general laws) and idiographic (idiosyncratic