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His methodological writings were instrumental in establishing the self-identity of modern social science as a distinct field of inquiry; he is still claimed as the source of inspiration by empirical positivists and their hermeneutic detractors alike.More substantively, Weber’s two most celebrated contributions were the “rationalization thesis,” a grand meta-historical analysis of the dominance of the west in modern times, and the “Protestant Ethic thesis,” a non-Marxist genealogy of modern capitalism.At first a fervent nationalist supporter of the war, as virtually all German intellectuals of the time were, he grew disillusioned with the German war policies, eventually refashioning himself as one of the most vocal critics of the Kaiser government in a time of war.
His younger brother, Alfred, was an influential political economist and sociologist, too.
Evidently, Max Weber was brought up in a prosperous, cosmopolitan, and highly cultivated family milieu that was well-plugged into the political, social, and cultural establishment of the German [Roth 2000].
Also, his parents represented two, often conflicting, poles of identity between which their eldest son would struggle throughout his life — worldly statesmanship and ascetic scholarship.
Educated mainly at the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin, Weber was trained in law, eventually writing his on Roman law and agrarian history under August Meitzen, a prominent political economist of the time.
As such, Max Weber’s influence was far-reaching across the vast array of disciplinary, methodological, ideological and philosophical reflections that are still our own and increasingly more so.