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Max Weber's "Grand Sociology": The Origins and Composition of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Soziologie

Wolfgang J. Mommsen
History and Theory
Vol. 39, No. 3 (Oct., 2000), pp. 364-383
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2678017
Page Count: 20
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Max Weber's "Grand Sociology": The Origins and Composition of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Soziologie
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Abstract

Max Weber's magnum opus Economy and Society (Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Soziologie) was for the most part published only after his premature death in June 1920. Only the chapters on basic sociological terms, the categories of social action, and the Three Types of Legitimate Domination were sent to the publishers by Weber himself; the other manuscripts were found in a pile on his desk. The editions by Marianne Weber and Melchior Palyi and by Johannes F Winckelmann are in many ways unsatisfactory, and the controversy about the correct composition of Economy and Society persists. This article reconstructs the origins of the various texts of Economy and Society on the basis of the available source material, notably the correspondence between Weber, Marianne Weber, and the publishers. It shows that in many ways the editions available at present do not live up to Max Weber's own intentions. Both the arrangement and the precise wording of the texts are unreliable, and the time sequence of the texts written from 1909 to 1914 and then in part rewritten and reorganized in 1919-1920 is uncertain. A segment of an earlier draft of parts of the chapter on Communities (Gemeinschaften) found among Weber's papers allows the conclusion that as early as 1905-1906, Weber had outlined a universal historical scheme of all known civilizations. This is to say that Economy and Society is not as closely linked to Weber's work on the Outline of Social Economics (Grundriss der Sozialokonomic) as has been previously assumed. This article offers a precise reconstruction of the complicated history of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Soziologie-the exact title agreed upon by Weber and his publisher Paul Siebeck shortly before his death. It shows the development of Weber's theoretical conceptions and the corresponding changes of his terminology much more clearly, and paves the way to a better understanding of his magnum opus.

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