Weber's Thoughts on Social Action

Weber believes each society is different and comes up with ideal typical constructs to explain a certain society. His starting point for his theory is meaningful social action. Weber believes that humans are naturally valuing beings who carry certain values and interpret natural and social factors based on their values. Humans are conscious creatures who attach meaning towards an act which is directed towards another individual. Weber is concerned with social action, its subjective meaning and the unintended consequences of the actions. According to Weber, structure is a result of action which in return affects the individuals who are responsible for setting up the structure. Humans act on subjective meaning and world views of humans determine their behavior. Each individual’s behavior slowly becomes patterned and regulated. Each individual’s actions altogether create a collective institution for society. The iron cage, therefore, is an unintended result of the growing rationalist thinking in western capitalist societies. Weber uses the iron cage metaphor to explain social order and society. As society developed, rationalist and efficient thinking rose and this resulted in the growth of bureaucracies. A bureaucracy is designed as the most dominant form of social organization based on efficiency, rationalism, and control. In a bureaucracy, there is a set of rules which favors rational principles directed towards a goal. The bureaucracy gave rise to the iron cage which is a metaphor for people in western capitalist societies who are trapped within a dogma of efficiency and practicality. This type of thinking limits individual human freedom and potential because they way the institution is built, it doesn’t allow humans to have a... ... middle of paper ... ...d labor beings because assembly lines take away the social part of being human. Marx saw religion as a tool for class oppression because of the conflict it provided for societies. According to Marx, “religion is the opium of the people” and “religion promotes stratification because it supports a hierarchy of people in Earth and the subordination of humankind to divine authority.” Marx believes that man makes religion, and not vice versa. He argues that religion is a mere product of man and is for people who have not won himself or has lost himself again. He calls for the banishment of religion stating that religion is just an illusion of happiness and the abolition of it is a demand for real happiness. Religion highlights social conditions and causes people to think and act the way religion teaches instead of having individuals act based on their own agency.
Get Access