Rise of sociology as an intellectual tradition. Classical tradition in sociology of the XIX century

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His three main themes were the effect of religious ideas on economic activities, the relation between social stratification and religious ideas, and the distinguished characteristics of Western civilization. Weberian sociology is based on the concept of social action understood as behaviour to which human beings attach a specific meaning or set of meanings. It is also behaviour that is guided by or takes account of behaviour of other people (either as individuals or as a group).

Meaningful social behaviour, or social action thus contrasts with nonsocial or reactive behaviour, undertaken automatically in response to some stimulus. Just as people act on the basis of meaning, it's important to understand the source of these meanings and thus motivation behind human social behaviour. To reveal the basis of social action M.

Weber used a method of analysis called Verstehen (to understand), whereby the motivations of human social behaviour may be fruitfully revealed to the observer. That's why his sociology is often called Understanding or Interpretative Sociology. It states that any research can never be fully inductive or descriptive without a conceptual apparatus.

This apparatus was identified by the sociologist as the ideal type. The idea can be summarized as follows: an ideal type is formed of characteristics and elements of the given phenomena but it is not meant to correspond to all of the characteristics of a particular case. For instance, a choleric is a hot, fussy, easy-going person, but a particular individual, John by name, may be a difficult man to get on with.

Although being an abstraction, it is essential to understand any particular social phenomena because, unlike physical phenomena, they involve human behaviour which must be interpreted by ideal types.


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