Max Weber’s Sociology of Civilizations: A Reconstruction
Kalberg, Stephen. 2021. Max Weber’s Sociology of Civilizations. Routledge. This volume examines civilizations through the broad lens articulated by the works of Max Weber. In focusing upon his comparative-historical mode of analysis and his causal explanations for the sources, contours, and trajectories of civilizations, this study reconstructs Weber’s sociology in a manner that provides clear guidelines to researchers seeking to investigate civilizations systematically. Through detailed interpretations of the West’s unique development from Antiquity to the Modern era, precise comparisons to the long-range and singular pathways taken by China and India, and careful demarcations of the “particular rationalisms” of several civilizations, the author addresses Weber’s powerful model-building on the one hand and his opposition to organic holism and structural presuppositions on the other hand. Both a broad-ranging conceptual framework and case-based empirical investigations are pivotal to Weber. His research strategy emphasizes further the “subjective meanings” of actors East and West and the deep cultural origins of groups. Finally, this volume masterfully conveys Weber’s contextual and multi-causal methodology rooted in a tight interweaving of the present with the past. Max Weber’s Sociology of Civilizations: A Reconstruction will appeal to comparative sociologists and historians, as well as to theorists of all persuasions. The social scientist pursuing a cross-civilizational agenda will here discover the distinct contribution of Weber’s “interpretive understanding” procedures to the now-essential field of civilizational analysis.