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Weber's Sociology. The Ideal-Type Explaining Social Phenomena - Essay Example

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According to Weber sociology is a particular science of human behaviour and its consequences. For him all kinds of social structures and relationships, cultural objectification are the results of basic individual behaviour…
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Webers Sociology. The Ideal-Type Explaining Social Phenomena
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Download file to see previous pages To do so however, it is not sufficient to observe action of one individual or collect data from a group of individuals. It requires selection of method to address the peculiar question the action raises (Schtz, Walsh & Lehnert, 1967 5). Weber does not find description alone sufficient; there should be understanding from an individual action. A few causal explanations could be made e. g. I am certain the window broke because it was struck by a rock - I saw it myself; but I can not predict on the basis or rules or laws as to what blows will break which windows. At the most a generalisation like 'Windows are fragile, and fragile things tend to break when struck hard enough, other conditions being right.' (Ringer, 1997-85)... Weber's method of understanding meaning of an action is by construction of ideal types. These are not statistical averages since these depend on unusual questions being asked at that time and they are created as per the methodological demands of these questions (Schtz et al. 1967 5). The article focuses on Weber's concept of ideal-type and rationality as a tool for understanding social phenomena through interpretive sociological research.
An ideal type is a mental construct or picture which the investigator uses to address the reality. The ideal type is different from 'ideals' and it is ideal in coherent way. For an investigator the ideal type is an instrument that he or she uses to give a meaning to the diverse reality. Its usefulness lies in "its success in revealing concrete cultural phenomena in their interdependence, their causal conditions and their significance" (Weber 1949 as in Andersen & Kaspersen, 2000, p 79). The investigator designs an ideal type by " the one sided accentuation of one or more point of view and by synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete more or less present or occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged to those one- sidedly emphasised viewpoints into a unified analytical construct" (Weber 1949 as in Andersen & Kaspersen, 2000, p79).
Weber's definition may be understood by a simple example. Suppose A and B are playing chess. Their behaviour is oriented to an action model, M. The model is not restricted to A and B only, it is an ideal type chess player. Schutz et al (1967) explain that beyond their individuality as chess player, the other concrete individual living experiences of A and B are neither identical nor are being compared here. Andersen & Kaspersen (2000) clarifies that the ideal type are human construct and do not have any counterpart in reality. The social laws are examples of ideal type. Knowledge of law is not the knowledge of reality; these are path leading to understand the reality.
The origin of ideal type is attributed to the finding that social sciences lack the causal laws and experimental regularities of natural sciences. Weber cautioned social scientists against using historical constructs as such for explaining reality in contemporary times; he rather advises them designing their own construct using these as basis. The historical constructs show beliefs and attitudes prevalent at that time. Human behaviour is not predictable or constant phenomenon (Ringer, 1997, p110). There are always individual elements associated with it. Weber had maintained that we keep ourselves to certain aspects of reality while exclude other since the chosen aspects are relevant to our values. We thus reduce the complexity of data by constructing abstract concepts containing only ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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