Monthly Archives: May 2015

the real empirical sociological investigation

“The real empirical sociological investigation begins with the question: What motives determine and lead the individual members and participants in this socialistic community to behave in such a way that the community came into being in the first place and that it continues to exist? Any form of functional analysis which proceeds from the whole to the parts can accomplish only a preliminary preparation for this investigation—a preparation, the utility and indispensability of which, if properly carried out, is naturally beyond question.” (Max Weber. Economy and Society. p.18)


“Value-rational action may thus have various different relations to the instrumentally rational action. From the latter point of view, however, value-rationality is always irrational. Indeed, the more the value to which action is oriented is elevated to the status of an absolute value, the more “irrational” in this sense the corresponding action is. For, the more unconditionally the actor devotes himself to this value for its own sake, to pure sentiment or beauty, to absolute goodness or devotion to duty, the less is he influenced by considerations of the consequences of his action.” (Max Weber. Economy and Society. p.26)


“Today the most common form of legitimacy is the belief in legality, the compliance with enactments which are formally correct and which have been made in the accustomed manner. In this respect, the distinction between an order derived from voluntary agreement and one which has been imposed is only relative. For so far as the agreement underlying the order is not unanimous, as in the past has often been held necessary for complete legitimacy, the order is actually imposed upon the minority; in this frequent case the order in a given group depends upon the acquiescence of those who hold different opinions. On the other hand, it is very common for minorities, by force or by the use of more ruthless and far-sighted methods, to impose an order which in the course of time comes to be regarded as legitimate by those who originally resisted it.” (Max Weber. Economy and Society. p.37)

common language

“Orientation to the rules of a common language is thus primarily important as a means of communication, not as the content of a social relationship. It is only with the emergence of a consciousness of difference from third persons who speak a different language that the fact that two persons speak the same language, and in that respect share a common situation, can lead them to a feeling of community and to modes of social organization consciously based on the sharing of the common language.” (Max Weber. Economy and Society. p.43)


“The concept of constitution made use of here … is not the same as what is meant by a “written” constitution, or indeed by “constitution” in any sort of legal meaning. The only relevant question for sociological purposes is when, for what purposes, and within what limits, or possibly under what conditions (such as the approval of gods or priests or the consent of electors), the members of the organization will submit to the leadership.” ( Weber. Economy and Society. p.51)

the modern state

“The primary formal characteristics of the modern state are as follows: It possesses an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation, to which the organized activities of the administrative staff, which are also controlled by regulations, are oriented. This system of order claims binding authority, not only over the members of the state, the citizens, most of whom have obtained membership by birth, but also to a very large extent over all action taking place in the area of its jurisdiction. It is thus a compulsory organization with a territorial basis. … The claim of the modern state to monopolize the use of force is as essential to it as its character of compulsory jurisdiction and of continuous operation.” (Max Weber. Economy and Society. p.56)

the politician and the scholar

“While he was working intermittently on the economic categories, Weber in speeches and statements strenuously opposed the nationalization of the major industries. He considered neither the remaining state bureaucracy nor the inexperienced functionaries of the socialist labor movement capable of running the economy. In April, 1902, when the Democratic Party he had helped to establish in November, 1918, asked him to serve on the Nationalization Commission, he resigned, explaining that “the politician must make compromises—the scholar must not whitewash them.” A few weeks later he died.” (Introduction by Guenther Roth. Max Weber. Economy and Society. p.CXIV)

‘feeling right’

“Pink and Leder Mackley (2013) used video ethnographies to explore the meaning of digital media as part of people’s everyday sensory and affective embodied routines in their homes. They identified the ways in which these media contributed to concepts of the domestic setting ‘feeling right’ for the participants, or achieving the appropriate atmosphere and texture in their home surroundings. … Based on their ethnographic research, Pink and Leder Mackley (2013) argue that people realise the extent to which their lives are saturated by digital and other media, but often this knowledge is embodied and affective rather than easily explained via the use of words (returning to the concept of the domestic space ‘feeling right’ at specific times of the day).” (Lupton. Digital Sociology. pp.170–171)

ambivalent ideas about privacy

“Research suggests that people hold ambivalent and sometimes paradoxical ideas about privacy in digital society. Many people value the use of dataveillance for security purposes and for improving economic and social wellbeing. … On the other hand, however, there is evidence of unease about the continuous, ubiquitous and pervasive nature of digital surveillance.” (Lupton. Digital Sociology. pp.146–7)

‘normality’ in big data

“… the analysis of big data is playing an increasingly integral role in identifying certain behaviours, activities or outcomes ass appropriate or ‘normal’ and others as deviating from the norm. The rhetorical power that is bestowed upon big data has meant that they are viewed as arbiters of drawing distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable practices and behaviours: in effect, shaping definitions of ‘normality’. Here again, algorithmic authority has political and economic consequences.” (Deborah Lupton. Digital Sociology. p.103)