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Max weber (1864–1920)

Prominent sociologist Max Weber established a sociology department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in 1919. Weber wrote on many topics related to sociology including political change in Russia and social forces that affect factory workers. He is known best for his 1904 book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism . The theory that Weber sets forth in this book is still controversial. Some believe that Weber argued that the beliefs of many Protestants, especially Calvinists, led to the creation of capitalism. Others interpret it as simply claiming that the ideologies of capitalism and Protestantism are complementary.

Weber believed that it was difficult, if not impossible, to use standard scientific methods to accurately predict the behavior of groups as people hoped to do. They argued that the influence of culture on human behavior had to be taken into account. This even applied to the researchers themselves, who, they believed, should be aware of how their own cultural biases could influence their research. To deal with this problem, Weber and Dilthey introduced the concept of verstehen    , a German word that means to understand in a deep way. In seeking verstehen, outside observers of a social world—an entire culture or a small setting—attempt to understand it from an insider’s point of view.

In his book The Nature of Social Action (1922), Weber described sociology as striving to "interpret the meaning of social action and thereby give a causal explanation of the way in which action proceeds and the effects it produces." He and other like-minded sociologists proposed a philosophy of antipositivism    whereby social researchers would strive for subjectivity as they worked to represent social processes, cultural norms, and societal values. This approach led to some research methods whose aim was not to generalize or predict (traditional in science), but to systematically gain an in-depth understanding of social worlds.

The different approaches to research based on positivism or antipositivism are often considered the foundation for the differences found today between quantitative sociology and qualitative sociology. Quantitative sociology uses statistical methods such as surveys with large numbers of participants. Researchers analyze data using statistical techniques to see if they can uncover patterns of human behavior. Qualitative sociology seeks to understand human behavior by learning about it through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and analysis of content sources (like books, magazines, journals, and popular media).

Should we raise the minimum wage?

In the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage, and he signed an executive order putting this into effect for individuals working on new federal service contracts. Congress did not pass legislation to change the national minimum wage more broadly. The result has become a national controversy, with various economists taking different sides on the issue, and public protests being staged by several groups of minimum-wage workers.

Opponents of raising the minimum wage argue that some workers would get larger paychecks while others would lose their jobs, and companies would be less likely to hire new workers because of the increased cost of paying them (Bernstein 2014; cited in CNN).

Proponents of raising the minimum wage contend that some job loss would be greatly offset by the positive effects on the economy of low-wage workers having more income (Hassett 2014; cited in CNN).

Sociologists may consider the minimum wage issue from differing perspectives as well. How much of an impact would a minimum wage raise have for a single mother? Some might study the economic effects, such as her ability to pay bills and keep food on the table. Others might look at how reduced economic stress could improve family relationships. Some sociologists might research the impact on the status of small business owners. These could all be examples of public sociology, a branch of sociology that strives to bring sociological dialogue to public forums. The goals of public sociology are to increase understanding of the social factors that underlie social problems and assist in finding solutions. According to Michael Burawoy (2005), the challenge of public sociology is to engage multiple publics in multiple ways.


Sociology was developed as a way to study and try to understand the changes to society brought on by the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the earliest sociologists thought that societies and individuals’ roles in society could be studied using the same scientific methodologies that were used in the natural sciences, while others believed that is was impossible to predict human behavior scientifically, and still others debated the value of such predictions. Those perspectives continue to be represented within sociology today.

Short answer

What do you make of Karl Marx’s contributions to sociology? What perceptions of Marx have you been exposed to in your society, and how do those perceptions influence your views?

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Do you tend to place more value on qualitative or quantitative research? Why? Does it matter what topic you are studying?

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Further research

Many sociologists helped shape the discipline. To learn more about prominent sociologists and how they changed sociology check out (External Link) .


Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner. 2000. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology . London: Penguin.

Buroway, Michael. 2005. "2004 Presidential Address: For Public Sociology." American Sociological Review 70 (February): 4–28. Retrieved December 30, 2014 (http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/Public%20Sociology,%20Live/Burawoy.pdf).

Cable Network News (CNN). 2014. "Should the minimum wage be raised?" CNN Money. Retrieved December 30, 2014 (http://money.cnn.com/infographic/pf/low-wage-worker/).

Cronk, George. n.d. “George Herbert Mead.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource . Retrieved October 14, 2014 (http://www.iep.utm.edu/mead/).

Durkheim, Émile. 1964 [1895]. The Rules of Sociological Method , edited by J. Mueller, E. George and E. Caitlin. 8th ed. Translated by S. Solovay. New York: Free Press.

Fauré, Christine, Jacques Guilhaumou, Jacques Vallier, and Françoise Weil. 2007 [1999]. Des Manuscrits de Sieyès, 1773–1799 , Volumes I and II. Paris: Champion.

Hannoum, Abdelmajid. 2003. Translation and the Colonial Imaginary: Ibn Khaldun Orientalist . Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University. Retrieved January 19, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Hill, Michael. 1991. “Harriet Martineau.” Women in Sociology: A Bio-Bibliographic Sourcebook , edited by Mary Jo Deegan. New York: Greenwood Press.

Johnson, Bethany. 2003. “Harriet Martineau: Theories and Contributions to Sociology.” Education Portal . Retrieved October 14, 2014 (http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/harriet-martineau-theories-and-contributions-to-sociology.html#lesson).

Poggi, Gianfranco. 2000. Durkheim . Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Ritzer, George, and Goodman, Douglas. 2004. Sociological Theory, 6th Edition . New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Stapley, Pierre. 2010. “Georg Simmel.” Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. Retrieved October 21, 2014 (http://www.cf.ac.uk/socsi/undergraduate/introsoc/simmel.html).

U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. 2010. Women and the Economy, 2010: 25 Years of Progress But Challenges Remain . August. Washington, DC: Congressional Printing Office. Retrieved January 19, 2012 ( (External Link)&File_id=8be22cb0-8ed0-4a1a-841b-aa91dc55fa81 ).

Questions & Answers

which distinguish between community and tribe
Shah Reply
Community is quite different from tribe....gemienschaft and gesselschaft
what is institution.... according to sociology..?
what does mean rationality according to j.habermas
Shah Reply
factors contributing to cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
What is cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
difference between urban and rural areas
Thabsile Reply
What does law in a society mean
Alisha Reply
What is socialization
socialization, is the behavioural process of human to adopt or acceptable in their various societies.From Moses Ebena
Which human being bcme social being
I'm writing paper 2 bridging course final year so it also includes sociology plz help guys
Culture is a way of of people life
ottways says that.... what in ur whole life that is cultue
law in a society mean rule of governing authority that allow and forbid the said acts.answer is for Alisha
what is social stratification plx give me answer
social stratification means social differentiation based on occupation, social status
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position of social statificition
social stratification is a kind of social diffrentation where by a society groups people into socio_ economic strata , based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status or derived power (social and Political).
plz tell me changing gender spaces in family ,work and its implications on the individual and society across culture?
I don't no
stratification in sociology what does it mean?
stratification refers to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy...
the difference some groups have greater status, power, and wealth than other groups....
what is society
yasir Reply
society means any geographical area where group of people share equal practice of living activities culture and other aspects
Or it is a group of persons,sharing self-sufficient system of action that is capable of lasting longer than the life span of any individual
sociology, deal on society,human social interaction with separate people and not only as individuals, for example school, churches and associations.
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Max weber
what is the relevance of sociology
Alqaseem Reply
how do u do?
Hi, good evening. please can someone help me emphasized more on that religion?
Nath Reply
As sociologist we endorse anything that supports the continuity of society and harmonize the society and its elements is good... We don't really worry about the authenticity of its origin... If you have studies the sociological perspectives you will know that there are different views on religion..
look what each classical theorist have said about religion...
what is a religion
Zahid Reply
ll grade sociology ga notes h k
Religion involve those things which surpasses the limit of our knowledge.
religion is believe it one God
What is Social Psychology? and why social psychology?
learn about the people and understand there need to live in society what there basic need and learning institutions
Social Psychology deals with the study of individual as part of a group or communty and how they affect each other.
behavior study of humans are there institutions are social psychology but if they are study about society that means the learn about there living structure
social psychology means it formed after combined sociology and psychology and itis new descipline.
social psychology study behavior reference society
what is sociology?
Omeneke Reply
It's a field of study which studies about human Society... (to make you more clear... the psychology studies single individual where as sociology studies group of individual who forms society)
sociology is study of socity
not only study but it study with scientific method and sociological approach
rite #rajesh sosa
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what is culture
Nandala Reply
what is urbanisation
What are the weaknesses of the conflict theory
Skeazo Reply

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