Weber + 4 Ideal Types of Social Action

Blog #4

Max Weber (1864-1920) was a sociologist who was expressing his concern with rationalization. Rationalization is the process whereby an increasing number of social actions and social relationships become based on considerations of efficiency or calculation. Weber believes that there are four ideal types of social actions. Ideal types are used as a tool to look at real cases and compare them to the ideal types to see where they fall. No social action is purely just one of the four types.

  1. Traditional Social Action: actions controlled by traditions, “the way it has always been done”
  2. Affective Social Action: actions determined by one’s specific affections and emotional state, you do not think about the consequences
  3. Value Rational Social Action: actions that are determined by a conscious belief in the inherent value of a type of behavior (ex: religion)
  4. Instrumental-Rational Social Action: actions that are carried out to achieve a certain goal, you do something because it leads to a result

In class we discussed the social action, marriage, in terms of these four ideal types. Now, I will discuss “going to school” in terms of these four ideal types. Traditionally, one may attend college because her grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles have as well. They wish to continue the family tradition and continue with college as well. When relating to affective, one may go to school just because they enjoy learning. They love going to college whether or not it will make them broke. With value rational, one may attend college because it’s apart of his/her religion that everyone must receive the proper education. Therefore, this person attends college for that reason only. Finally, one may go to college because he/she may want an amazing job in the future and in order to get that job, he/she needs a college degree. 

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2 responses to “Weber + 4 Ideal Types of Social Action

  1. If I had to choose which ideal types I’d fall under as to why I am going to college, I would pick “all of the above.” Here’s why: traditionally, my parents went to college, so it would be expected that I would too; I don’t mind going to college because I enjoy learning new things; by going to college, I am defining myself as a scholarly, educated person; lastly, going will help fulfill my goal of wanting to be smarter, more aware, build up a social network and be more conscious of my surroundings.

    I would assume that my reasonings for each type are, for the most part, universal. I’m not trying to be redundant here but this just shows how much we value college, no?

  2. Excellent presentation of Weber’s ideal types of social action using the case of going college.

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