MAX WEBER'S IDEAL TYPE

I. The Historical Background of the Ideal Type

A. Empirical studies, to be valid, must be carried out on the

basis of sound methodological principles. The natural

scientist, for example, adheres to definite procedures of the

scientific method. If study in history and the social

sciences is to deserve th name of science, it too must be

carried out in accordance with scientific methods and spirit.

B. Early sociologists such as Comte aimed to establish socilogy

as a science of humanity in contrast with a kind of philosophy

of history based on theological-philosophical theories. Some

of these sociologists were strongly influenced by the exact

sciences, particularly by the theory of evolution.

C. Weber was in full agreement with the aim of making socilogy--

and all athe social sciences-- an empirical science. For him,

philosophy, metaphysics, and a philosophy of history were not

science.

D. Weber was fully aware of the great difficulty of creating a

scheme of conceptualization in the social dciences comparable

to that of the natural sciences. Historical-social reality

presents grave difficulties for onw hwo would make scientific,

conceptual sense of it. It is characterized by infinite

complexity, by great significance adhering to individual

happenings, by our inability to control and ecperiment with

human behavior, and by our need to understand the subjective

meaning of human action. It is also very difficult for the

social scientist to be objective in his study of human affairs

since the objects of his study; are quite inseparable from

himself.

E. Therefore, though Weber insisted upon objectivity inthe social

sciences, he thought that within the vasic spirit and

principle of science generally, the social sciences would have

to create new specific methods peculiar to themselves to bring

order out of chaos as they studied social-historical reality.

The general, abstract laws of the natural sciences would not

work in the study of society in Weber's view. Weber created a

new form of concept which he called the ideal type.

II. Two Examples of Max Wever's Ideal Type (The content of ideal

types are drawn from empiricial reality.)

A. Capitalism (Characteristics of Capitalistic systems essential

to the formation of the ideal type)

1. Appropriation of the goods of production

2. A free market

3. A rational technique of production

4. Rational, dependable law

5. Free labor

6. Commercialization of business

7. Separation of business from household

8. Accounting systems

9. Spirit of capitalism

a. Work for work's sake

b. This-worldly asceticism

c. Impersonal relations

d. Individualism

e. A methodical, systematic, reckoning attitude

B. Bureaucratic Structure (Features of rational bureaucratic

structure)

1. A continuous organization of official functions bound

by rules.

2. A specific sphere of competence.

3. The organization of offices follows the principle of

hierarchy.

4. The rules which regulate the conduct of an office may

be technical rules or norms.

5. It is a matter of principle that the members of the

administrative should be completely separated from

ownership of the means of production or

administration.

6. A complete absence of appropriation of his official

positions by the incumbent.

7. Adinistrative acts, dicisions, and rules are

formulated and recorded in writing.

III. How Ideal Types Are Formed

A. Let us first consider how an ideal type is formed. Weber was

very interested in modern capitalism, believing with Mars that

it was a domminant force in the shaping of Western

civilization. Insread of searching for abstract, general laws

to explain capitalism, Weber studied the phenomenon itself in

various cultures and historical epochs. (He was an

economist). He found that industrial capitalism functioned

best where certain rational (reckonable) factors were present

in the economy in society. These elements he put together

into a logically consistent whole -- an ideal type. This then

became a model by which he could measure or interpret or gain

a perspective of the nature of capitalism at any givern time

and place where the facts were known.

B. This model or type has several characteristics:

1. The elements of the type are taken from reality are

observed in history and in society. This is essentially a

four-fold process.

a. Differentiation. This is the process of becoming

aware of details in what was up to then an

undifferentiated general experience.

b. Integration. This is the process of putting together

systematically parts of earlier experiences that have

become sufficiently differentiated to stand out, and

that can be related to each other in various ways.

c. Abstraction. This is the process by which

characteristic of reality are separated from specific

objects and recognized as qualitative aspects of many

different situations.

d. Generalizations. This process involves picking out of

a large number of experiences tha significant common

meanings that persist and seem not to by changed by

additional experience.

2. The charactereistics are put together into a consistent,

logical whole. Thus, the characteristics is "taken away"

from the object or action, combined with other