Max Weber's Methodologies: Interpretation and Critique
September 2002, Polity
Max Weber is widely regarded as the most important and influential figure in the history of the social sciences. Among other things, he wrote extensively on the methodology of the social sciences, but his writings on methodology are complex and are the subject of many conflicting interpretations.
In this authoritative new book, Sven Eliaeson provides a comprehensive introduction to Weber's methodology and to the various ways it has been interpreted by subsequent scholars in Europe and the United States. Eliaeson shows how the vested interests of scholars have resulted in biased interpretations of Weber's work. Weber was preoccupied with the intellectual problems of his time and not with our current disciplinary crises. By placing Weber's thought and methodology in its historical context, Eliaeson is able to provide a masterly reconstruction of his central concerns while at the same time exploring the enduring relevance of Weber's work for sociology today.
This book will be recognized as a definitive work on Weber's methodology and will be an indispensable text for students and scholars in sociology and the social sciences.
1. THE CONTEXTS.
German Historicism and the Controversy over Method.
The Post-Enlightenment Anguish of Polytheism.
Neo-Kantianism and Nominalism.
2. THE SHAPING OF WEBER'S CONCEPTUAL TOOLS.
Distinguishing the Natural from the Social Sciences.
Enter "Values" and the Problem of Selection and Value Intrusion.
Rickert: Theoretical and Practical Value-Relation.
Weber: Scientific Value-Relativism.
The Limits of Social Science Concept Formation.
Postscript: Evaluating Rickert's Influence on Weber.
3. AN ANALYSIS OF WEBER'S SOLUTION.
Objectivity, Selection, and Causal Significance.
4. THREE PARADIGMATIC CONCEPTIONS OF WEBER.
Introduction: A Brief Outline of Weber's Reception.
Talcott Parsons: Weber as a macro-sociologist.
Alfred Schutz: Weber as a 'Hermeneutic'.
Lazarsfeld and Oberschall: Weber as an empirical social scientist.
5. BEYOND APPROPRIATION. WEBER YESTERDAY AND TODAY.
The Weber-Renaissance as Living Legacy.
Selective and "Creative" Presentism.
Continuing Significance: Weber as Mediator.
Increasing Professionalization and Cohesiveness.
The Dispute about the Centre of Gravity of Weber's Work and Methodology.
Does an Overarching Interpretation Matter?.
Nietzsche, The Disenchantement Thesis and Methodology.
Appendix: The radical solution?: A note on Gunnar Myrdal and the Diffusion of Value-Orientation/Relation.
Recontextualizing Weber at the Crossroads.
Approaching the Classics.
A comprehensive introduction to Max Weber's methodology and its interpretations
- Demonstrates how the Weber we meet is more of a projection of the aspirations of his interpreters than the genuine, original Weber
Argues that Weber's thought must be utilized today, but must also be understood in its context
Contributes to bridging the gulf between Anglo-Saxon and German Weberology
"A century ago Max Weber produced the most profound and challenging account of the fundamental problems of method in the social sciences. Sven Eliaeson's survey of the complex body of controversy, misunderstanding and interpretative dispute over Weber's approach to the relation between values, interpretation and causation in the social sciences is the best introduction to this hugely influential literature - nuanced, subtle and well formed about the myriad ways in which these issues have figured in the various intellectual traditions of Europe and the United States." Stephen Turner, University of South Florida
"[The book] is written in a student-friendly manner, and will doubtless appeal to serious undergraduates exploring some of these issues for the first time. There is enough synthesis for experts to be able to gauge where Eliaeson is coming from too...The book is a good starting point for deeper investigation of these issues for those interested in the philosophy of social science, and will be welcomed by scholars interested in Weber" Duncan Kelly, Policial Studies Review