Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Problems with Ideals?

Weber’s work is both interesting and continues to be useful today and by exploring the stratifications of class and leadership demonstrates that he was willing to engage the complexity of society, but the ideal types that are used as a measure throughout his work seem to limit his utility to a minor extent. It is understandable to use these ideal types, but the fact remains that people are limited and erroneous. For example, the ideas that bureaucracy stems from the human desire to be organized is a fine assertion, but the idea that this will lead to absolute domination from a system that gives no regard to emotion or general human chaos is not a claim that follows reason. Seeing how Weber was aware of this being an ideal, it is doubtable that he thought this would ever be obtained, but this begs the question of what utility does creating this ideal type provide rather than simply making observations on existing bureaucracies?

1 comment:

  1. We are not supposed to "achieve" the ideal types. They are just a methodological tool. But, do I think that Weber's use of them actually helps us understand a bureaucracy better? For me, I think it does help me to picture this extreme case and then compare it to the 'real world.'