Interpretations and Misinterpretations of Max Weber: The Problem of Rationalization

Author: José Casanova

January 24, 1984

Starting from the premise that much of the popular interpretation and analysis of Max Weber's work is flawed and dismissive of context, in this book chapter Casanova undertakes a literature review to critique the usual assumptions about the Weberian canon. Chief among these is that Economics and Society is Weber's "major" work, which, Casanova says, imposes a limited and often fragmentary interpretation of Weber's thought on those who begin with that assumption. After dealing with various authors' treatments of Weber, Casanova puts forth his own analysis as a way "toward a comprehensive interpretation" of his subject. This theory posits "rationalization as the unifying theory in Weber's work" and re-analyzes Weber through that lens to create a new and better-contextualized understanding of the famous sociologist's work. This essay was published in Max Weber's Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision in a Rationalized World (edited by Ronald Glassman and Vatro Murvar).

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