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V ALUES, V ALIDITY AND I DEAL T YPES : W EBER Gurminder K Bhambra 23 rd October, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "V ALUES, V ALIDITY AND I DEAL T YPES : W EBER Gurminder K Bhambra 23 rd October, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 V ALUES, V ALIDITY AND I DEAL T YPES : W EBER Gurminder K Bhambra 23 rd October, 2013

2 I NTRODUCTION TO W EBER Weber’s methodological writings set out the principles of an interpretive sociology What is distinctive about social science? What is the relation between distinct social sciences? Interpretive social science is based upon understanding the motives of individuals. Understanding, not law-like generalisations, is the ultimate aim of sociology as an interpretive science. Difference between natural and social sciences.

3 T HE R OLE OF V ALUES Actors attribute meaning to the world; they also attribute it significance and value Social inquirers also act in the world and endow it with values and meaning. How are those values prevented from being ‘biases’ in inquiry? This is an issue of values for social scientists which is additional to the issue of values for the scientist A neutral attitude is an attitude within the world you’re studying Or to take a neutral attitude is to face ‘alienation’ Difficulty of separating out values

4 M ETHODOLOGICAL I MPLICATIONS Weber: we need a methodology of the social sciences that recognises that the problems we study are not themselves value-neutral. Cultural variation in forms of behaviour means that the nature of what is perceived to be a problem will vary, and what sociologists are called upon to consider will be different. In contrast, the problems that are studied in science are self-generated within the science. In the social sciences what are considered problems for study are produced in part externally to social scientists – they are socially derived, they are not endogenous to social science.

5 O BJECTIVITY IN S OCIAL I NQUIRY Three core problems: How do we have methodological rigour in the social sciences given the relation to values? What is the role of generalisations (given that they are part of methodological rigour in science as normally understood) in a social inquiry oriented to particulars? How are sociological constructs related to actors’ meanings? The methodology of ideal types is the attempt to solve these problems.

6 I DEAL T YPES There are two forms of ‘types’ Pure types – not empirical category, reflection on the nature of action, it’s a logical type from thinking about the characteristics of action itself Ideal types – all empirical instances to which the type is implied for purposes of interpretation deviate from the pure type Ideal types in action in relation to a value- relevant question. Value-relevant question: Why did capitalism arise in Europe? This requires the construction of an ideal-type: what do we mean by capitalism?

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