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Published by Charles University in Prague, Karolinum Press, cooperated with Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague.

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HISTORICKÁ SOCIOLOGIE, Vol 10 No 2 (2018), 119–125

Univerzální racionalizace: Velké vyprávění Maxe Webera

[Universal Rationalization: Max Weber’s Great Narrative]

Dirk Kaesler

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14712/23363525.2018.53
published online: 06. 12. 2018


Among the “classic” diagnoses of modernity, the German scholar Max Weber is often ascribed the role of the creator of a “theory of rationalization.” If there had to be one keyword for which Max Weber is constantly mentioned today, it would probably be “rationalization.” This term denotes the vast context in the history of ideas which comprises Weber’s alleged “theory” of a universal, occidental “rationalization.” I myself do not really place this “theory,” which has been attributed to Max Weber, into the portfolio of sociological theories in the strict epistemological sense, but rather into the reservoir of “Great Narratives,” as Jean-François Lyotard has called them, “Les grands récits.” Max Weber has bestowed his great narrative of universal, occidental “rationalization” upon the self-understanding of humanity by sociology as a discipline during its roughly 150 years of history up to the present day. Whoever wants to refer to this Great Narrative by Max Weber cannot forbear to reconstruct it from his texts. At best, only the outlines of this Great Narrative can be indicated here. We are talking about this vast context in the history of ideas which we contemporaries care to use for labeling Weber’s vision of modernity. The concept of “rationalization,” first emerging in Western and Northern Europe, followed by the transatlantic and universal rationalization for which Max Weber is so well known today, was in no way a guiding theme for the major part of his work. I will try to demonstrate this in the following five steps.

keywords: Max Weber; “theory of rationalization”; Jean-François Lyotard; “Great Narratives”

references (3)

1. Kaesler, Dirk [1988]. Max Weber. An Introduction to his Life and Work. Cambridge, Chicago: Polity Press, University of Chicago Press.

2. Kaesler, Dirk [2014a]. Max Weber. Preuße, Denker, Muttersohn. Eine Biographie. Munchen: C. H. Beck.

3. Kaesler, Dirk [2014b]. Max Weber. Eine Einführung in Leben, Werk und Wirkung. Frankfurt/Main, New York: Campus.

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