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Weber's Analysis of Legal Rationalization: A Critique and Constructive Modification

Joyce S. Sterling and Wilbert E. Moore
Sociological Forum
Vol. 2, No. 1 (Winter, 1987), pp. 67-89
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/684528
Page Count: 23
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Weber's Analysis of Legal Rationalization: A Critique and Constructive Modification
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Abstract

Max Weber's identification of increased rationalization as a master process of change included extensive discussion of legal systems. A cross-classification of rational/irrational and formal/substantive rationality makes some valid analytical distinctions, but neglects a source of legitimate authority for a formally-rational legal system and thus a determination of the goals and values toward which rules are oriented. It also neglects "instrumental" rationality, which Weber recognized in other contexts. A modification of Weber's analytical scheme is proposed, not merely to improve the accuracy of classification of legal orders but more importantly to permit empirical analysis of their dynamics.

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