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Max Weber and the moral idea of society

Stone, L. (2010) Max Weber and the moral idea of society. Journal of Classical Sociology, 10 (2). pp. 123-136.

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Methodological individualism has always been a focal point in the secondary literature on Max Weber. Some of the recent literature has endeavoured to extend this focus to individual autonomy and freedom in Weber's political thought, and a part of this endeavour has attempted to portray his comparative studies of religion as evidence of his promotion of North American civil society at home in Germany. However, whilst this literature has provided us with a very high standard of research into the context of Weber's work, little has been written about the conceptualizations of society that he made outside of his magnum opus, Economy and Society. This article concentrates on the scholarly approach to the social world and society that Weber adopted in his contributions to the social question, in his encounter with an organic concept of society, and in his rejection of holistic reifications of society. The focus is on a complex idea of morality in Weber's work. Despite his contempt for organicism and what we might now term holism, Weber developed an ideal-type of morality that encompassed a role for 'society', as a symbol of consensus, to function at a sociological, psychological, and biological level to encourage people to believe in a unified moral world. Weber ultimately developed this ideal-type as an aid to his sociological assessment of the press.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Sage Publications
Copyright: © The Author 2010.
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