Essays /

Max Weber Essay

Essay preview

The Ironic Social Theory of Max Weber: The ‘Iron Cage’
Steven Seidman

Wiley-Blackwell publishing Ltd.

Max Weber has long been recognized as one of the founders of modern sociology. He has had an immense impact on how we understand the development and nature of our capitalist society today. Looking at almost all the major world cultures, Weber was able to analyze the different factors that he believes have contributed to the modernization of our society. He is well known for his work The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism, where he explores the link between religious Protestant ideals and the start up of capitalist culture in Europe. After analyzing the upbringing of modernization in Europe Weber investigates why similar systems failed to develop in Eastern cultures; recognizing that religion and culture are key determinants. Later he identifies that charismatic authority also has an influence on modernization since these are the leaders that threaten the existing social and political systems and form revolutions of social change. Weber notes that this constant challenge by charismatic authority will eventually subside and is succeeded by a rationally controlled bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is inevitable, spreading to all major social spheres, and although a major force of modernity it has its negative impacts. Bureaucratic systems dehumanize social interactions, reduce freedoms, and cause people to become dependent and powerless. Weber believed the only way to preserve personal freedom is through competition with other bureaucracies, and as a result he supported Capitalism over Socialism. Overall, he anticipates a very bleak future for humanity. He considers bureaucracy the evil in our society but understands it will und...

Read more


/wiki/iron_cage 1997 2008 2014 27 3rd 4th 5 7 abil abl actual addit allow almost also although alway analyz anticip around art august aunt author base be becom bee believ benefit better beyond biggest birdcag blackwel bleak book bore brace bureaucraci bureaucrat cage calcul call canada capit capitalist case caus certain challeng chang characterist charismat charter classic clear cling cog coloni come compani competit complet concept connect consid constant contemporari contest continu contribut control corpor correct creat cultur damag day dehuman depend despit determin develop differ direct disillus distress doesn drive e eastern econom ed effect effici employ ensur environment etc ethic ethnic europ even eventu ever evil exampl excus exert exist expand expans exploit explor express extrem factor fail fals feel fight fill find flexibl focus follow forc form found foundat founder free freedom freeli full fund futur gain gay general get give given go goe good govern grabb group hand harcourt hope horribl hospit huge human idea ideal identifi illus immens impact implic import increas individu inequ inevit influenc inform institut intens interact internet intrigu intuit investig iron job key kind knowledg known larg late later law lead leader leav legal less let life like limit link littl live lock long longer look lost love ltd ma machin major make malden man mani marriag mass materi max may mean men mindless modern money moral movi music natur need negat never new note noth oblig octob oil one opportun overal paper part parti particular penalti peopl person perspect pessimist philosoph place plan play polici polit politician popul powerless predict preserv problem product profit profit-run protest pub publish puppet push put question race rat ration rational-run realiti recogn reduc refer reflect regul religi religion resourc respect rest result retriev revers revolut right rigid robot role room rule run sand say secondari see seem seen seidman sex show side signific similar simpli sinc social societi sociolog solut somewher span sphere spirit spread stand start stay steven still stop strive structur struggl stuck student subject subsid succeed support suppress sure sway sympath sympathet system teacher technolog tension thea theori thing think though threaten thrive throughout time today togeth told toronto toward trap treat true understand undoubt upbring us use ve vote want way weber well western wheel whole whose wiley wiley-blackwel win without work worker world would wrong wrote wurtel yet