This chapter argues for the need to decolonize global studies, particularly as it is emerging as a new field of inquiry in the Global North. This entails decolonizing the basic building blocks that have dominated the past three centuries of Western thought. For global studies scholars, this means decentering the dominance of a White privileged world view that naturally assumes that such a world view leads the rest at home and abroad. It also means actively seeking to understand social and political relations from the standpoint of non-Western communities. The chapter argues for the need to decolonize Western thinking precisely because histories of marginalization and being “cut out” of the positive impacts of global capitalism have long been the experience among many non-Western peoples of the world..
This chapter explores some of the building blocks of an epistemology that would be especially appropriate for global studies. A global epistemology requires a multidimensional approach because global complexity cannot be captured by any single discipline of knowledge or viewpoint. Six building blocks of such a global epistemology are proposed, each of which reverses common current approaches to global studies: highlighting meso- over macro-level analysis; addressing normal flow of trouble rather than resorting to the language of “crisis”; trying to see the agent more often than the circumstance in which the agent lives; explaining the webs of complex connectivity rather than obfuscating them by using the language of “hegemony”; being more cognizant of the fact that communities come into being by knowledge produced by them and about them, not by necessity; and putting the human actor, rather than the objective structures, at the center of analysis.
Laura R. Ford
The relationship between law and capitalism was of central interest to Max Weber. His legal training sensitized Weber from the beginning of his scholarly career to the social and historical significance of law, a sensitivity that was reflected in his wide-ranging studies of capitalism. This chapter focuses on the linkages between law and capitalism that Weber elucidates in Economy and Society and in other works ranging from his dissertation and habilitation to his writings on financial exchanges. It concentrates on Weber’s writings about commercial law and modern finance capitalism, showing how these reflect the broader picture that he paints of the developmental trajectory of occidental law and, in turn, the development of modern, rational capitalism. The discussion also focuses attention on jurists as the culture-carriers of an intellectual tradition, who formulated a new commercial law for merchants and industrial guilds. This would become the legal basis for modern market finance capitalism. In helping to build a new Ordnung for modern capitalism, jurists were formulators of a type of this-worldly salvation system, one that Weber both admired and regretted.
Sung Ho Kim
Weber is not generally recognized as a democratic theorist of civil society. Drawing from his religious and political writings, this chapter reconstructs his vision of pluralistically organized civil society. As such, Weber’s civil society was primarily a site of civic education and leadership selection where dynamic culture and a system of contestation would help arrest the bureaucratic petrification of modern democracy. Based on this reconstruction, Weber’s deeply political vision is brought to bear upon contemporary theories of civil society, including the partisanship theory of late, in order to explore the relevance of his politics of civil society in a time of troubled democracy.
Weber defines the state as a political institution that claims successfully on the monopoly of violence. The chapter shows that this definition is a result of Weber’s historical studies revealing the monopoly as the decisive criterion, which distinguishes the modern occidental state from all other historical forms of domination. The monopolization of violence by the occidental state was the result of a long-term process in which the local holders of powers were expropriated by a central force. Comparing the worldwide situation of present political communities, however, the Weberian state is rather the exception than the rule. State-free territories are facing political communities with a high degree of statehood. The chapter points out that particularly for democracies the maintaining of the monopoly of violence is of fundamental importance since it guarantees that legitimate decisions have the chance to be enforced.
Max Weber published a good deal as a German nationalist. He wrote about nation and state as a social scientist. Much of his political writing promoted German interests at home and abroad. As a scientist he wrote about ethnic community, national community, and state (though rather less about nationalism and nation-state). The present chapter argues that there are problems in relating these political and scientific writings to each other and that his theorizing of the concept of nation is inadequate by his own standards. However, his basic sociological concepts suggest better ways of understanding nation and nationalism, and the chapter will sketch out such an approach.
Over time, Pierre Bourdieu became an emergent reference in international relations—quite paradoxically, given that Bourdieu himself did not pay much attention to international relations as such. This chapter exhaustively reviews the works of Bourdieu in search of the international, both as a dimension of social capital and as a social space across societies. It then retraces how pioneering scholars used the theory and concepts of Bourdieu to develop their analysis of transnational processes. It also assesses the more recent blossoming of scholarship using Bourdieu in international relations, sometimes at the risk of inconsistency with the theory of Bourdieu. It finally suggests a coherent reconstruction of a theory of transnational fields based on Bourdieu for further research. Throughout the chapter, the notion of field serves as a golden thread to go back to its genealogy, to be found, surprisingly, in international relations.
In recent times we find many plebiscitary acts that seek to democratically legitimize political processes in any direction. They have in common that they interrupt the normal routine of representative democracies to a certain degree and create an extra-daily state of affairs, which entails not only direct but also indirect consequences. The text attempts to systematize some of these mechanisms from a Weberian perspective using Brexit as an example. After a brief overview of Weber’s short-term politically inspired statements on plebiscitary democracy, the text systematizes Weber’s understanding of the state as a bureaucratic apparatus that requires any kind of leader to be controlled. Subsequently, the text discusses the relationship between domination, legality, and rationality in order to finally point out the danger of erosion of truth and legality through the emergence of competing consensus communities in the face of competing conceptions of order.
Hans Henrik Bruun
This chapter first examines Max Weber’s views on the relationship between ethics and politics. Weber maintained that there is an ineradicable conflict between the ultimate value spheres, each of which has its own inherent logic; consequently, he rejected the idea that politics could build on ethical foundations. Moreover, he pointed to an essential conflict within the sphere of politics between two radically different “ethics”: the ethic of conviction and the ethic of responsibility. A person acting according to the ethic of conviction judges his or her action solely by its intrinsic value, regardless of consequences, and takes no responsibility for those consequences; a person acting in accordance with the ethic of responsibility will not only take those consequences into account but also feel that he or she must accept responsibility for them. Although Weber’s formulations often seem to indicate his personal preference for the ethic of responsibility, it should be noted that he explicitly states that the true vocation of politics presupposes both responsibility and conviction on the part of the politician. This account of Weber’s views is followed, first, by an analysis of contemporary usage of the terms “ethic of conviction” and “ethic of responsibility” and, second, by a discussion of the relevance of Weber’s argument today, on the basis of five concrete cases. The conclusion of these discussions is that Weber’s analysis of the relationship between ethics and politics, and of the ethic of politics, remains as relevant as ever.
When Max Weber began his work on the historical importance of the relationship between the Protestant ethic and modern capitalism, he committed himself to the most enduring of his theoretical interests, the economic ethic of the most important religions. Investigating central issues in Max Weber’s study on ancient Judaism, this chapter points to its relevance for the understanding of contemporary populism. For this purpose, two key aspects of his work are emphasized: this religion’s rationality—inescapable for the understanding of Western modernity—and the charisma of the biblical prophets, based on their social and political position as well as on the affective bond they formed with the masses. Both aspects provide important insights for the assessment of contemporary populist movements.
Max Weber analyzed politics from the perspective of Chancen for actors, and he never separated world politics from domestic politics. The “Westphalian balance” between great European powers shaped Weber’s views on international polity. However, he also regarded Western individualism, human rights, and parliamentary democracy as necessary qualities to possess in order to be recognized as a great power. This vision provided the basis for his wartime critique of the expansionist tendencies in German foreign policy and for his demand for the parliamentarization of German politics. After the end of World War I, Weber used Woodrow Wilson’s idea of the League of Nations as the basis for a proposal on new treaty legislation on war guilt. By doing so, he also identified chances for introducing supranational elements to world politics. The final part of the chapter applies a Weberian political imagination to the interpretation of the United Nations and the European Union as supranational institutions.
Concepts of civil society and despotism played a fundamental role in Western interpretations of modern society, defined as a civilization, through construction of the “other.” On the one hand, modern social forms were explained through the concept of civil society and related notions of citizenship; on the other, premodern and non-Western societies were described as static and archaic through the concept of despotism. In the case of Weber’s work, demonstrating the uniqueness of the West was fundamental to his treatment of cities and citizenship. He relied on analyses of the birth and rise of the institutions and social structure of cities in the West to explain the development of modern capitalism. In this context his theory of patrimonialism gained acceptance within contemporary Turkish social science. Based on Weberian ideas, some historians and sociologists argued that Ottoman society had a despotic structure with an absence of civil society. According to this view, the “middle class” found in Western societies did not develop in Turkish society, and this absence became an obstacle to modernization. An alternative view held that this perspective resulted from a misinterpretation of the context of the Weberian approach, which was developed basically in order to explain Western modernity. However, these views were not designed to explain Ottoman society or to analyze contemporary problems and suggest appropriate solutions to the problems of civil society today.
This chapter gives an account of Weber’s concept of rationalization and how it has been used by subsequent social thinkers. The argument of the chapter is that rationalization is a central thread in Weber’s thought, and it explicates his ideas about how this process works in the realms of culture, the economy, and politics. It also discusses some thinkers who have made use of his ideas, including Ernest Gellner, Randall Collins, and Michael Mann. In Weber’s time, a major debate was about the rise and distinctiveness of the West. More recently, the debate has shifted to the causes and consequences of globalization. The final part of the chapter locates Weberian ideas about rationalization, and its limits, in this larger debate.
Mona Kanwal Sheikh
In a global era, the challenge for worldview analysis is to embrace both a context-sensitive and a culturally sensitive approach to concepts and ideas. This chapter identifies solid methods to analyze and comprehend the vertical dynamics between worldviews and action and also the horizontal dynamics between the precepts, imageries, and grievances that stem from transnational views of religion, politics, and society. The chapter reviews the most dominant definitions and applications of the worldview concept as it has been used in the study of global phenomena in the social sciences and how they differ from the way the concept of ideology is applied. This opens up a critical discussion of the link between worldview on one side and behavior on the other. By drawing on sociotheology, the chapter engages with the question of how to embrace context and culturally sensitive methods to study transnational worldviews.